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The Princess is given a Vision 

(Page 141) 

William Sewell 


Hfextot anb ffera 

Ug UrtatH S>p*ttr? 

Author of The Mythology of Ancient Mexico and 
Peru, ' The Popol Vuh, ' The Civilisation 
of Ancient Mexico, ' A Dictionary of 
Mythology,^ etc., etc. 










IN recent years a reawakening has taken place in the 
study of American archaeology and antiquities, 
owing chiefly to the labours of a band of scholars 
in the United States and a few enthusiasts in the con- 
tinent of Europe. For the greater part of the nine- 
teenth century it appeared as if the last word had 
been written upon Mexican archaeology. The lack of 
excavations and exploration had cramped the outlook 
of scholars, and there was nothing for them to work 
upon save what had been done in this respect before 
their own time. The writers on Central America who 
lived in the third quarter of the last century relied 
on the travels of Stephens and Norman, and never 
appeared to consider it essential that the country or the 
antiquities in which they specialised should be examined 
anew, or that fresh expeditions should be equipped to 
discover whether still further monuments existed relat- 
ing to the ancient peoples who raised the teocallis of 
Mexico and the huacas of Peru. True, the middle of 
the century was not altogether without its Americanist 
explorers, but the researches of these were performed 
in a manner so perfunctory that but few additions to 
the science resulted from their labours. 

Modern Americanist archaeology may be said to have 
been the creation of a brilliant band of scholars who, 
working far apart and without any attempt at co-opera- 
tion, yet succeeded in accomplishing much. Among 
these may be mentioned the Frenchmen Charnay and 
de Rosny, and the Americans Brinton, H. H. Bancroft, 
?hd Squier. To these succeeded the German scholars 
Seler, Schellhas, and FCrstemann, the Americans Winsor, 
Starr, Savile, and Cyrus Thomas, and the English- 
en Payne and Sir Clements Markham. These men, 


splendidly equipped for the work they had taken in 
hand, were yet hampered by the lack of reliable data 
— a want later supplied partly by their own ex- 
cavations and partly by the . painstaking labours of 
Professor Maudslay, principal of the International 
College of Antiquities at Mexico, who, with his wife, 
is responsible for the exact pictorial reproductions of 
many of the ancient edifices in Central America and 

Writers in the sphere of Mexican and Peruvian 
myth have been few. The first to attack the subject 
in the light of the modern science of comparative 
religion was Daniel Garrison Brinton, professor of 
American languages and archaeology in the University 
of Philadelphia. He has been followed by Payne, 
Schellhas, Seler, and Forstemann, all of whom, however, 
have confined the publication of their researches to 
isolated articles in various geographical and scientific 
journals. The remarks of mythologists who are not 
also Americanists upon the subject of American myth 
must be accepted with caution. 

The question of the alphabets of ancient America 
is perhaps the most acute in present-day pre-Columbian 
archaeology. But progress is being made in this branch 
of the subject, and several scholars are working in 
whole-hearted co-operation to secure final results. 

What has Great Britain accomplished in this new 
and fascinating field of science ? If the lifelong and 
valuable labours of the late Sir Clements Markham 
be excepted, almost nothing. It is earnestly hoped 
that the publication of this volume may prove the 
means of leading many English students to the study 
and consideration of American archaeology. 

There remains the romance of old America. The 
real interest of American mediaeval history must ever 





circle around Mexico and Peru — her golden empires, 
her sole exemplars of civilisation ; and it is to the 
books upon the character of these two nations that we 
must turn for a romantic interest as curious and as 
absorbing as that bound up in the history of Egypt or 

If human interest is craved for by any man, let him 
turn to the narratives of Garcilasso el Inca de la Vega 
and Ixtlilxochitl, representatives and last descendants of 
the Peruvian and Tezcucan monarchies, and read there 
the frightful story of the path to fortune of red-heeled 
Pizarro and cruel Cortes, of the horrible cruelties com- 
mitted upon the red man, whose colour was " that of 
the devil," of the awful pageant of gold-sated pirates 
laden with the treasures of palaces, of the stripping of 
temples whose very bricks were of gold, whose very 
drain-pipes were of silver, of rapine and the sacrilege 
of high places, of porphyry gods dashed down the 
pyramidal sides of lofty teocallis, of princesses torn from 
the very steps of the throne — ay, read these for the 
most wondrous tales ever writ by the hand of man, 
tales by the side of which the fables of Araby seem dim 
— the story of a clash of worlds, the conquest of a new, 
of an isolated hemisphere. 

It is usual to speak of America as "a continent 
without a history/' The folly of such a statement is 
extreme. For centuries prior to European occupation 
Central America was the seat of civilisations boasting a 
history and a semi-historical mythology second to none 
in richness and interest. It is only because the sources 
of that history are unknown to the general reader that 
such assurance upon the lack of it exists. 

Let us hope that this book may assist in attracting 
many to the head-fountain of a river whose affluents 
water many a plain of beauty not the less lovely because 

• • 


bizarre, not the less fascinating because somewhat 
remote from modern thought. 

In conclusion I have to acknowledge the courtesy of 
the Bureau of American Ethnology, which placed in 
my hands a valuable collection of illustrations and 
allowed me to select from these at my discretion. The 
pictures chosen include the drawings used as tail- 
pieces to chapters ; others, usually half-tones, are duly 
acknowledged where they occur, 





I. The Civilisation of Mexico i 

II. Mexican Mythology 54 

III. Myths and Legends of the Ancient Mexicans 118 

' IV. The Maya Race and Mythology 143 

' V. Myths of the Maya 307 

VI. The Civilisation of Old Peru 248 

VII. The Mythology of Peru 291 ^ 

Bibliography 335 

Index and Glossary 341 






The Princess is given a Vision Frontispieu 

-■/ The Descent of Qu* tzalcoatl xiv 

Toveyo and the Magic Drum 16 

The Altar of Skulls 26 

The Guardian of the Sacred Fire 30 

Pyramid of the Moon : Pyramid of the Sun • 32 

Ruins of the Pyramid of Xochicalco 34 

The Spirit of the dead Aztec is attacked by an Evil Spirit 

who scatters Clouds of Ashes 38 

The Demon Izpuzteque 40 

The Aztec Calendar Stone 44 

A Prisoner fighting for his Life 48 

Combat between Mexican and Bilimec Warriors 53 

Priest making an Incantation over an Aztec Lady 54 

The Princess sees a Strange Man before the Palace 62 

Tezcatlipoca, Lord of the Night Winds 66 

The Infant War-God drives his Brethren into a Lake and 

slays them 70 

Statue of Tlaloc, the Rain- God 76 

The Aged Quetzalcoatl leaves Mexico on a Raft of Serpents So 

Ritual Masks of Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca ; and Sacri- 
ficial Knife 84 

The so-called Teoyaominqui 88 

Statue of a Male Divinity go 

Xolotl 94 

The Quauhxicalli, or Solar Altar of Sacrifice 98 




Macuilxochitl 102 

The Penitent addressing the Fire 106 

Cloud Serpent, the Hunter-God no 

Mexican Goddess 114 

Tepoxtecatl 117 

" Place where the Heavens Stood " 120 

A Flood-Myth of the Nahua 122 

The Prince who fled for his Life 126 

The Princess and the Statues 130 

The King's Sister is shown the Valley of Dry Bones 140 

Mexican Deity 142 

The Prince who went to Found a City 156 

" The Tablet of the Cross " 160 

Design on a Vase from Chama representing Maya Deities 166 

The House of Bats 172 

Part of the Palace and Tower, Palenque 182 

The King who loved a Princess 186 

^Teocalli or Pyramid of Papantla : The Nunnery, Chichen- 

Itza 188 

■•Details of the Nunnery at Chichen-ltza 190 

The Old Woman who took an Egg home 192 
Great Palace of Mitla : Interior of an Apartment in the 

Palace of Mitla 198 

Hall of the Columns, Palace of Mitla 202 

The Twins make an Imitation Crab 214 

The Princess and the Gourds 220 

The Princess who made Friends of the Owls 322 

In the House of Bats 226 



How the Sun appeared like the Moon 230 

Queen Moo has her Destiny foretold 240 

The Rejected Suitor 242 

Piece of Pottery representing a Tapir 247 

v'Doorway of Tiahuanaco 248 

Fortress at Ollantay-tampu 250 

11 Mother and child are united " 252 

The Inca Fortress of Pissac 254 

"Making one of each nation out of the clay of the earth" 258 

Painted and Black Terra-cotta Vases 280 

•'Conducting the White Llama to the Sacrifice 312 

"The birdlike beings were in reality women " 318 

"A beautiful youth appeared to Thonapa " 320 

" He sang the song of Chamayhuarisca" 322 

"The younger one flew away " 324 

" His wife at first indignantly denied the accusation " 326 

"He saw a very beautiful girl crying bitterly " 328 


The Valley of Mexico 330 

Distribution of the Races in Ancient Mexico 331 

Distribution of the Races under the Empire of the Incas 333 

* • • 


fc^? 00 ^ 

The Descent of Quetzalcoatl 


The Civilisations of the New "World 

THERE is now no question as to the indigenous 
origin of the civilisations of Mexico, Central 
America, and Peru. Upon few subjects, how- 
ever, has so much mistaken erudition been lavished. 
The beginnings of the races who inhabited these 
regions, and the cultures which they severally created, 
have been referred to nearly every civilised or semi- 
civilised nation of antiquity, and wild if fascinating 
theories have been advanced with the intention of 
showing that civilisation was initiated upon American 
soil by Asiatic or European influence. These specula- 
tions were for the most part put forward by persons 
who possessed but a merely general acquaintance with 
the circumstances of American aboriginal civilisation, 
and who were struck by the superficial resemblances 
which undoubtedly exist between American and Asiatic 
peoples, customs, and art-forms, but which cease to be 
apparent to the Americanist, who perceives in them only 
such likenesses as inevitably occur in the work of men 
situated in similar environments and surrounded by 
similar social and religious conditions. 

The Maya of Yucatan may be regarded as the most 
highly civilised of the peoples who occupied the 
American continent before the advent of Europeans, 
and it is usually their culture which we are asked to 
believe had its seat of origin in Asia. It is unnecessary 
to refute this theory in detail, as that has already been 
ably accomplished. 1 But it may be remarked that the 
surest proof of the purely native origin of American 

1 By Payne in Tie New World called America, London, 1 892-99. 


civilisation is to be found in the unique nature of 
American art, the undoubted result of countless 
centuries of isolation. American language, arithmetic, 
and methods of time-reckoning, too, bear no resem- 
blance to other systems, European or Asiatic, and we 
may be certain that had a civilising race entered 
America from Asia it would have left its indelible 
impress upon things so intensely associated with the life 
of a people as well as upon the art and architecture of 
the country, for they are as much the product of culture 
as is the ability to raise temples. 

Evidence of Animal and Plant Life 

It is impossible in this connection to ignore the 
evidence in favour of native advancement which can be 
adduced from the artificial production of food in 
America. Nearly all the domesticated animals and 
cultivated food-plants found on the continent at the 
period of the discovery were totally different from 
those known to the Old World. Maize, cocoa, tobacco, 
and the potato, with a host of useful plants, were new 
to the European conquerors, and the absence of such 
familiar animals as the horse, cow, and sheep, besides 
a score of lesser animals, is eloquent proof of the 
prolonged isolation which the American continent 
underwent subsequent to its original settlement by 
man. r 

Origin of American Man 

An Asiatic origin is, of course, admitted for the 
aborigines of America, but it undoubtedly stretched 
back into that dim Tertiary Era when man was little more 
than beast, and language as yet was not, or at the best 
was only half formed. Later immigrants there certainly 
were, but these probably arrived by way of Behring 


Strait, and not by the land-bridge connecting Asia and 
America by which the first-comers found entrance. At 
a later geological period the general level of the North 
American continent was higher than at present, and a 
broad isthmus connected it with Asia. During this 
prolonged elevation vast littoral plains, now submerged, 
extended continuously from the American to the Asiatic 
shore, affording an easy route of migration to a type of 
man from whom both the Mongolian branches may have 
sprung. But this type, little removed from the animal 
as it undoubtedly was, carried with it none of the 
refinements of art or civilisation ; and if any resem- 
blances occur between the art-forms or polity of its 
equal descendants in Asia and America, they are due to 
the influence of a remote common ancestry, and not 
to any later influx of Asiatic civilisation to American 

Traditions of Intercourse with Asia 

The few traditions of Asiatic intercourse with America 
are, alas ! easily dissipated. It is a dismal business to 
be compelled to refute the dreams of others. How 
much more fascinating would American history have 
been had Asia sowed the seeds of her own peculiar 
civilisation in the western continent, which would then 
have become a newer and further East, a more glowing 
and golden Orient ! But America possesses a fascina- 
tion almost as intense when there falls to be considered 
the marvel of the evolution of her wondrous civilisa- 
tions — the flowers of progress of a new, of an isolated 

The idea that the " Fu-Sang" of the Chinese annals 
alluded to America was rendered illusory by Klaproth, 
who showed its identity with a Japanese island. It is 
not impossible that Chinese and Japanese vessels may 



have drifted on to the American coasts, but that they 
sailed thither of set purpose is highly improbable. 
Gomara, the Mexican historian, states that those who 
served with Coronado's expedition in 1 542 saw off the 
Pacific coast certain ships having their prows decorated 
with gold and silver, and laden with merchandise, and 
these they supposed to be of Cathay or China, " because 
they intimated by signs that they had been thirty days 
on their voyage." Like most of these interesting 
stories, however, the tale has no foundation in fact, 
as the incident cannot be discovered in the original 
account of the expedition, published in 1838 in the 
travel-collection of Ternaux-Compans. 

Legends of European Intercourse 

We shall find the traditions, one might almost call 
them legends, of early European intercourse with 
America little more satisfactory than those which 
recount its ancient connection with Asia. We may 
dismiss the sagas of the discovery of America by the 
Norsemen, which are by no means mere tradition, and 
pass on to those in which the basis of fact is weaker 
and the legendary interest more strong. We are told 
that when the Norsemen drove forth those Irish monks 
who had settled in Iceland, the fugitives voyaged to 
" Great Ireland,'* by which many antiquarians of the 
older school imagine the author of the myth to have 
meant America. The Irish Book of Lismore recounts 
the voyage of St. Brandan, Abbot of Cluainfert, in 
Ireland, to an island in the ocean which Providence 
had intended as the abode of saints. It gives a glowing 
account of his seven years' cruise in western waters, 
and tells of numerous discoveries, among them a hill 
of fire and an endless island, which he quitted after 
*n unavailing journey of forty days, loading his ships 



with its fruits, and returning home. Many Norse 
legends exist regarding this " Greater Ireland," or 
" Huitramanna Land" (White Man's Land), among 
them one concerning a Norseman who was cast away 
on its shores, and who found there a race of white men 
who went to worship their gods bearing banners, and 
" shouting with a loud voice/' There is, of course, 
the bare possibility that the roving Norsemen may 
have on occasions drifted or have been cast away as far 
south as Mexico, and such an occurrence becomes the 
more easy of belief when we remember that they 
certainly reached the shores of North America. 

The Legend of Madoc 

A much more interesting because more probable story 
is that which tells of the discovery of distant lands 
across the western ocean by Madoc, a princeling of 
North Wales, in the year 1170. It is recorded in 
Hakluyt's English Voyages and Powel's History of U' 'ales. 
Madoc, the son of Owen Gwyneth, disgusted by the 
strife of his brothers for the principality of their dead 
father, resolved to quit such an uncongenial atmosphere, 
and, fitting out ships with men and munition, sought 
adventure by sea, sailing west, and leaving the coast of 
Ireland so far north that he came to a land unknown, 
where he saw many strange things. "This land," says 
Hakluyt, " must needs be some part of that country of 
which the Spaniards affirme themselves to be the first 
finders since Hanno's time," and through this allusion 
we are enabled to see how these legends relating to 
mythical lands came to be associated with the American 
continent. Concerning the land discovered by Madoc 
many tales were current in Wales in mediaeval times. 
Madoc on his return declared that it was pleasant and 
fruitful, but uninhabited. He succeeded in persuading 



a large number of people to accompany him to this 
delectable region, and, as he never returned, Hakluyt 
concludes that the descendants of the folk he took with 
him composed the greater part of the population of the 
America of the seventeenth century, a conclusion in 
which he has been supported by more than one modern 
antiquarian. Indeed, the wildest fancies have been based 
upon this legend, and stories of Welsh-speaking Indians 
who were able to converse with Cymric immigrants to 
the American colonies have been received with compla- 
cency by the older school of American historians as 
the strongest confirmation of the saga. It is notable, 
however, that Henry VII of England, the son of a 
Welshman, may have been influenced in his patronage 
of the early American explorers by this legend of 
Madoc, as it is known that he employed one Guttyn 
Owen, a Welsh historiographer, to draw up his paternal 
pedigree, and that this same Guttyn included the story 
in his works. Such legends as those relating to Atlantis 
and Antilia scarcely fall within the scope of American 
myth, as they undoubtedly relate to early communication 
with the Canaries and Azores. 

American Myths of the Discovery 

But what were the speculations of the Red Men on 
the other side of the Atlantic ? Were there no rumours 
there, no legends of an Eastern world ? Immediately 
prior to the discovery there was in America a widely 
disseminated belief that at a relatively remote period 
strangers from the east had visited American soil, 
eventually returning to their own abodes in the Land 
of Sunrise. Such, for example, was thf Mexican legend 
of Quetzalcoatl, to which we shall revert later in its more 
essentially mythical connection. He landed with several 

companions at Vera Cruz, and speedily brought to bear 


the power of a civilising agency upon native opinion. 
In the ancient Mexican pinturas y or paintings, he is 
represented as being habited in a long black gown, 
fringed with white crosses. After sojourning with the 
Mexicans for a number of years, during which time he 
initiated them into the arts of life and civilisation, he 
departed from their land on a magic raft, promising, 
however, to return. His second advent was anxiously 
looked for, and when Cortes and his companions arrived 
at Vera Cruz, the identical spot at which Quetzalcoatl 
was supposed to have set out on his homeward journey, 
the Mexicans fully believed him to be the returned 
hero. Of course Montezuma, their monarch, was not 
altogether taken by surprise at the coming of the white 
man, as he had been informed of the arrival of mys- 
terious strangers in Yucatan and elsewhere in Central 
America ; but in the eyes of the commonalty the Spanish 
leader was a "hero-god'* indeed. In this interesting 
figure several of the monkish chroniclers of New Spain 
saw the Apostle St. Thomas, who had journeyed to the 
American continent to effect its conversion to Christianity. 

A Peruvian Prophecy 

The Mexicans were by no means singular in their 
presentiments. When Hernando dc Soto, on land- 
ing in Peru, first met the Inca Huascar, the latter re- 
lated an ancient prophecy which his father, Huaina 
Ccapac, had repeated on his death-bed, that in the reign 
of the thirteenth Inca white men of surpassing strength 
and valour would come from their father the Sun, and 
subject the Peruvians to their rule. " I command 
you," said the dying king, " to yield them homage and 
obedience, for they will be of a nature superior to ours." 1 
But the most interesting of American legends connected 
1 Garcilasso el Inca de la Vega, Hist, dti Incaj y lib. ix. cap. 15. 



with the discovery is that in which the prophecy of 
the Maya priest Chilan Balam is described. Father 
Lizana, a venerable Spanish author, records the pro- 
phecy, which he states was very well known throughout 
Yucatan, as does Villagutierre, who quotes it. 

The Prophecy of Chilan Balam 

Part of this strange prophecy runs as follows : u At 
the end of the thirteenth age, when Itza is at the height 
of its power, as also the city called Tancah, the signal 
of God will appear on the heights, and the Cross with 
which the world was enlightened will be manifested. 
There will be variance of men's will in future times, 
when this signal shall be brought. . . . Receive your 
barbarous bearded guests from the east, who bring the 
signal of God, who comes to us in mercy and pity. 
The time of our life is coming. . . ." 

It would seem from the perusal of this prophecy that 
a genuine substratum of native tradition has been over- 
laid and coloured by the influence of the early Spanish 
missionaries. The terms of the announcement are much 
too exact, and the language employed is obviously 
Scriptural. But the native books of Chilan Balam, 
whence the prophecy is taken, are much less explicit, 
and the genuineness of their character is evinced by 
the idiomatic use of the Maya tongue, which, in the 
form they present it in, could have been written by none 
save those who had habitually employed it from infancy. 
As regards the prophetic nature of these deliverances 
it is known that the Chilan, or priest, was wont to utter 
publicly at the end of certain prolonged periods a pro- 
phecy forecasting the character of the similar period 
to come, and there is reason to believe that some dis- 
tant rumours of the coming of the white man had 
reached the ears of several of the seers. 


These vague intimations that the seas separated them 
from a great continent where dwelt beings like them- 
selves seem to have been common to white and red 
men alike. And who shall say by what strange magic 
of telepathy they were inspired in the minds of the 
daring explorers and the ascetic priests who gave ex- 
pression to them in act and utterance ? The discovery 
of America was much more than a mere scientific pro- 
cess, and romance rather than the cold speculations 
of mediaeval geography urged men to tempt the dim 
seas of the West in quest of golden islands seen in 

The Type of Mexican Civilisation 

The first civilised American people with whom the 
discoverers came into contact were those of the Nahua 
or ancient Mexican race. We use the term " civilised " 
advisedly, for although several authorities of standing 
have refused to regard the Mexicans as a people who 
had achieved such a state of culture as would entitle 
them to be classed among civilised communities, there 
is no doubt that they had advanced nearly as far as it 
was possible for them to proceed when their environ- 
ment and the nature of the circumstances which handi- 
capped them are taken into consideration. In architec- 
ture they had evolved a type of building, solid yet 
wonderfully graceful, which, if not so massive as the 
Egyptian and Assyrian, was yet more highly decorative. 
Their artistic outlook as expressed in their painting 
and pottery was more versatile and less conventional 
than that of the ancient people of the Orient, their 
social system was of a more advanced type, and a less 
rigorous attitude was evinced by the ruling caste 
toward the subject classes. Yet, on the other hand, 
the picture is darkened by the terrible if picturesque 



rites which attended their religious ceremonies, and the 
dread shadow of human sacrifice which eternally over- 
hung their teeming populations. Nevertheless, the 
standard of morality was high, justice was even-handed, 
the forms of government were comparatively mild, and 
but for the fanaticism which demanded such troops of 
victims, we might justly compare the civilisation of 
ancient Mexico with that of the peoples of old China 
or India, if the literary activity of the Oriental states be 

The Mexican Race 

The race which was responsible for this varied and 
highly coloured civilisation was that known as the 
Nahua (Those who live by Rule), a title adopted by 
them to distinguish them from those tribes who still 
roamed in an unsettled condition over the contiguous 
plains of New Mexico and the more northerly tracts. 
This term was employed by them to designate the race as 
a whole, but it was composed of many diverse elements, 
the characteristics of which were rendered still more 
various by the adoption into one or other of the tribes 
which composed it of surrounding aboriginal peoples. 
Much controversy has raged round the question 
regarding the original home of the Nahua, but their 
migration legends consistently point to a northern 
origin ; and when the close affinity between the art-forms 
and mythology of the present-day natives of British Col- 
umbia and those of the Nahua comes to be considered 
along with the very persistent legends of a prolonged 
pilgrimage from the North, where they dwelt in a place 
" by the water,*' the conclusion that the Nahua emanated 
from the region indicated is well-nigh irresistible. 1 

* See Payne, History of the New PVerld called America 9 vol. ii. 

PP. 373 '* Ki- 


In Nahua tradition the name of the locality whence 
the race commenced its wanderings is called Aztlan 
(The Place of Reeds), but this place-name is of little 
or no value as a guide to any given region, though 
probably every spot betwixt Behring Strait and Mexico 
has been identified with it by zealous antiquarians. 
Other names discovered in the migration legends are 
Tlapallan (The Country of Bright Colours) and Chico- 
moztoc (The Seven Caves), and these may perhaps be 
identified with New Mexico or Arizona. 

Legends of Mexican Migration 

All early writers on the history of Mexico agree 
that the Toltecs were the first of the several swarms 
of Nahua who streamed upon the Mexican plateau in 
ever-widening waves. Concerning the reality of this 
people so little is known that many authorities of 
standing have regarded them as wholly mythical, while 
others profess to see in them a veritable race, the 
founders of Mexican civilisation. The author has 
already elaborated b : s theory of this difficult question 
elsewhere, 1 but will briefly refer to it when he comes to 
deal with the subject of the Toltec civilisation and the 
legends concerning it. For the present we must regard 
the Toltecs merely as a race alluded to in a migration 
myth as the first Nahua immigrants to the region 
of Mexico. Ixtlilxochitl, a native chronicler who 
flourished shortly after the Spanish conquest of Mexico, 
gives two separate accounts of the early Toltec migra- 
tions, the first of which goes back to the period of 
their arrival in the fabled land of Tlapallan, alluded to 
above. In this account Tlapallan is described as a 
region near the sea, which the Toltecs reached by 
voyaging southward, skirting the coasts of 'California, 

1 See Spcnce, CtviTuctim tf Ancient Mexico, chap. is. 



This account must be received with the greatest caution. 
But we know that the natives of British Columbia have 
been expert in the use of the canoe from an early 
period, and that the Mexican god Quetzalcoatl, who 
is probably originally derived from a common source 
with their deity Yetl, is represented as being skilled in 
the management of the craft. It is, therefore, not out- 
side the bounds of possibility that the early swarms of 
Nahua immigrants made their way to Mexico by sea, 
but it is much more probable that their migrations took 
place by land, following the level country at the base 
of the Rocky Mountains. 

The Toltec Upheaval 

Like nearly all legendary immigrants, the Toltecs 
did not set out to colonise distant countries from any 
impulse of their own, but were the victims of inter- 
necine dissension in the homeland, and were expelled 
from the community to seek their fortunes elsewhere. 
Thus thrust forth, they set their faces southward, and 
reached Tlapallan in the year i Tecpatl (a.d. 387). 
Passing the country of Xalisco, they effected a landing 
at Huatulco, and journeyed down the coast until they 
reached Tochtepec, whence they pushed inland to 
Tollantzinco. To enable them to make this journey 
they required no less than 104 years. Ixtlilxochitl 
furnishes another account of the Toltec migration in 
his Relaciones, a work dealing with the early history of 
the Mexican races. In this he recounts how the chiefs 
of Tlapallan, who had revolted against the royal power, 
were banished from that region in a.d. 439. Lingering 
near their ancient territory for the space of eight years, 
they then journeyed to Tlapallantzinco, where they 
halted for three years before setting out on a prolonged 
pilgrimage, which occupied the tribe for over a century, 


and in the course of which it halted at no less than 
thirteen different resting-places, six of which can be 
traced to stations on the Pacific coast, and the remainder 
to localities in the north of Mexico. 

Artificial Nature of the Migration Myths 

It is plain from internal evidence that these two 
legends of the Toltec migrations present an artificial 
aspect. But if we cannot credit them in detail, that is 
not to say that they do not describe in part an actual 
pilgrimage. They are specimens of numerous migration 
myths which are related concerning the various branches 
of the Mexican races. Few features of interest are 
presented in them, and they are chiefly remarkable for 
wearisome repetition and divergence in essential details. 

Myths of the Toltecs 

But we enter a much more fascinating domain when 
we come to peruse the myths regarding the Toltec 
kingdom and civilisation, for, before entering upon 
the origin or veritable history of the Toltec race, it 
will be better to consider the native legends concerning 
them. These exhibit an almost Oriental exuberance 
of imagination and colouring, and forcibly remind the 
reader of the gorgeous architectural and scenic de- 
scriptions in the Arabian Nights, The principal sources 
of these legends are the histories of Zumarraga and 
lxtlilxochitl. The latter is by no means a satisfactory 
authority, but he has succeeded in investing the tradi- 
tions of his native land with no inconsiderable degree 
of charm. The Toltecs, he says, founded the magni- 
ficent city of Tollan in the year $66 of the Incarnation. 
This city, the site of which is now occur ed by the 
modern town of Tula, was situated north-west of the 
mountains which bound the Mexican valley. Thither 



were the Toltecs guided by the powerful necromancer 
Hueymatzin (Great Hand), and under his direction 
they decided to build a city upon the site of what had 
been their place of bivouac. For six years they toiled 
at the building of Tollan, and magnificent edifices, 
palaces, and temples arose, the whole forming a 
capital of a splendour unparalleled in the New World. 
The valley wherein it stood was known as the " Place 
of Fruits," in allusion to its great fertility. The 
surrounding rivers teemed with fish, and the hills 
which encircled this delectable site sheltered large 
herds of game. But as yet the Toltecs were without 
a ruler, and in the seventh year of their occupation of 
the city the assembled chieftains took counsel together, 
and resolved to surrender their power into the hands 
of a monarch whom the people might elect. The 
choice fell upon Chalchiuh Tlatonac (Shining Precious 
Stone), who reigned for fifty-two years. 

Legends of Toltec Artistry 

Happily settled in their new country, and ruled over 
by a king whom they could regard with reverence, the 
Toltecs made rapid progress in the various arts, and 
their city began to be celebrated far and wide for the 
excellence of its craftsmen and the beauty of its archi- 
tecture and pottery. The name of "Toltec," in fact, 
came to be regarded by the surrounding peoples as 
synonymous with " artist," and as a kind of hall-mark 
which guaranteed the superiority of any article of 
Toltec workmanship. Everything in and about the 
Oty was eloquent of the taste and artistry of its founders. 
The very walls were encrusted with rare stones, and 
their masonry was so beautifully chiselled and laid as 
to resemble the choicest mosaic. One of the edifices of 
which the inhabitants of Tollan were most justly proud 


was the temple wherein their high-priest officiated. 
This building was a very gem of architectural art and 
mural decoration. It contained four apartments. The 
walls of the first were inlaid with gold, the second with 
precious stones of every description, the third with 
beautiful sea-shells of all conceivable hues and of the 
most brilliant and tender shades encrusted in bricks of 
silver, which sparkled in the sun in such a manner as 
to dazzle the eyes of beholders. The fourth apartment 
was formed of a brilliant red stone, ornamented with 

The House of Feathers 

Still more fantastic and weirdly beautiful was another 
edifice, " The House of Feathers." This also pos- 
sessed four apartments, one decorated with feathers 
of a brilliant yellow, another with the radiant and 
sparkling hues of the Blue Bird. These were woven 
into a kind of tapestry, and placed against the walls 
in graceful hangings and festoons. An apartment 
described as of entrancing beauty was that in which the 
decorative scheme consisted of plumage of the purest 
and most dazzling white. The remaining chamber was 
hung with feathers of a brilliant red, plucked from the 
most beautiful birds. 

Huemac the "Wicked 

A succession of more or less able kings succeeded 
the founder of the Toltec monarchy, until in a.d. 994 
Huemac II ascended the throne of Tollan. He ruled 
first with wisdom, and paid great attention to the duties 
of the state and religion. But later he fell from the 
high place he had made for himself in the regard of 
the people by his faithless deception of them and his in- 
temperate and licentious habits. The provinces rose in 



revolt, and many signs and gloomy omens foretold the 
downfall of the city. Toveyo, a cunning sorcerer, col- 
lected a great concourse of people near Tollan, and by 
dint of beating upon a magic drum until the darkest 
hours of the night, forced them to dance to its sound 
until, exhausted by their efforts, they fell headlong over 
a dizzy precipice into a deep ravine, where they were 
turned into stone. Toveyo also maliciously destroyed 
a stone bridge, so that thousands of people fell into the 
river beneath and were drowned. The neighbouring 
volcanoes burst into eruption, presenting a frightful 
aspect, and grisly apparitions could be seen among the 
flames threatening the city with terrible gestures of 

The rulers of Tollan resolved to lose no time in 
placating the gods, whom they decided from the 
portents must have conceived the most violent wrath 
against their capital. They therefore ordained a great 
sacrifice of war -captives. But upon the first of the 
victims being placed upon the altar a still more terrible 
catastrophe occurred. In the method of sacrifice 
common to the Nahua race the breast of a youth was 
opened for the purpose of extracting the heart, but no 
such organ could the officiating priest perceive. More- 
over the veins of the victim were bloodless. Such a 
deadly odour was exhaled from the corpse that a terrible 
pestilence arose, which caused the death of thousands of 
Toltecs. Huemac, the unrighteous monarch who had 
brought all this suffering upon his folk, was confronted 
in the forest by the Tlalocs, or gods of moisture, and 
humbly petitioned these deities to spare him, and not 
to take from him his wealth and rank. But the gods 
were disgusted at the callous selfishness displayed in his 
desires, and departed, threatening the Toltec race with 

six years of plagues. 

Toveyo and the Magic Drum 
William Sewell 




The Plagues of the To! tecs 

In the next winter such a severe frost visited the land 
that all crops and plants were killed. A summer of 
torrid heat followed, so intense in its suffocating fierce- 
ness that the streams were dried up and the very rocks 
were melted. Then heavy rain-storms descended, which 
flooded the streets and ways, and terrible tempests 
swept through the land. Vast numbers of loathsome 
toads invaded the valley, consuming the refuse left 
by the destructive frost and heat, and entering the very 
houses of the people. In the following year a terrible 
drought caused the death of thousands from starva- 
tion, and the ensuing winter was again a marvel of 
severity. Locusts descended in cloud-like swarms, and 
hail- and thunder-storms completed the wreck. During 
these visitations nine-tenths of the people perished, 
and all artistic endeavour ceased because of the awful 
struggle for food. 

King Acxitl 

With the cessation of these inflictions the wicked 
Huemac resolved upon a more upright course of life, 
and became most assiduous for the welfare and proper 
government of his people. But he had announced that 
Acxitl, his illegitimate son, should succeed him, and 
had further resolved to abdicate at once in favour of 
this youth. With the Toltecs, as with most primitive 
peoples, the early kings were regarded as divine, and the 
attempt to place on the throne one who was not of the 
royal blood was looked upon as a serious offence against 
the gods. A revolt ensued, but its two principal leaders 
were bought over by promises of preferment. Acxitl 
ascended the throne, and for a time ruled wisely. But 

he soon, like his father, gave way to a life of dissipation, 

» 17 


and succeeded in setting a bad example to the members 
of his court and to the priesthood, the vicious spirit 
communicating itself to all classes of his subjects and 
permeating every rank of society. The iniquities of 
the people of the capital and the enormities practised 
by the royal favourites caused such scandal in the out- 
lying provinces that at length they broke into open 
revolt, and Huehuetzin, chief of an eastern viceroyalty, 
joined to himself two other malcontent lords and 
marched upon the city of Tollan at the head of a strong 
force. Acxitl could not muster an army sufficiently 
powerful to repel the rebels, and was forced to resort 
to the expedient of buying them off with rich presents, 
thus patching up a truce. But the fate of Tollan was 
in the balance. Hordes of rude Chichimec savages, 
profiting by the civil broils in the Toltec state, in- 
vaded the lake region of Anahuac, or Mexico, and 
settled upon its fruitful soil. The end was in sight ! 

A Terrible Visitation 

The wrath of the gods increased instead of diminish- 
ing, and in order to appease them a great convention 
of the wise men of the realm met at Teotihuacan, the 
sacred city of the Toltecs. But during their delibera- 
tions a giant of immense proportions rushed into their 
midst, and, seizing upon them by scores with his bony 
hands, hurled them to the ground, dashing their brains 
out. In this manner he slew great numbers, and 
when the panic-stricken folk imagined themselves 
delivered from him he returned in a different guise and 
slew many more. Again the grisly monster appeared, 
this time taking the form of a beautiful child. The 
people, fascinated by its loveliness, ran to observe 
it more closely, only to discover that its head was 

a mass of corruption, the stench from which was so 

2 3- 5 7 


fatal that many were killed outright. The fiend who 
had thus plagued the Toltecs at length deigned to inform 
them that the gods would listen no longer to their 
prayers, but had fully resolved to destroy them root 
and branch, and he further counselled them to seek 
safety in flight. 

Fall of the Toltec State 

By this time the principal families of Tollan had 
deserted the country, taking refuge in neighbouring 
states. Once more Huehuetzin menaced Tollan, and 
by dint of almost superhuman efforts old King Huemac, 
who had left his retirement, raised a force sufficient to 
face the enemy. Acxitl's mother enlisted the services 
of the women of the city, and formed them into a 
regiment of Amazons. At the head of all was Acxitl, 
who divided his forces, despatching one portion to the 
front under his commander-in-chief, and forming the 
other into a reserve under his own leadership. During 
three years the king defended Tollan against the 
combined forces of the rebels and the semi-savage 
Chichimecs. At length the Toltecs, almost decimated, 
fled after a final desperate battle into the marshes of 
Lake Tezcuco and the fastnesses of the mountains. 
Their other cities were given over to destruction, and 
the Toltec empire was at an end. 

The Chichimec Exodus 

Meanwhile the rude Chichimecs of the north, who 
had for many years carried on a constant warfare with 
the Toltecs, were surprised that their enemies sought 
their borders no more, a practice which they had 
engaged in principally for the purpose of obtaining 
captives for sacrifice. In order to discover the reason 
for this suspicious quiet they sent out spies into Toltec 



territory, who returned with the amazing news that the 
Toltec domain for a distance of six hundred miles from 
the Chichimec frontier was a desert, the towns ruined 
and empty and their inhabitants scattered. Xolotl, the 
Chichimec king, summoned his chieftains to his capital, 
and, acquainting them with what the spies had said, 
proposed an expedition for the purpose of annexing 
the abandoned land. No less than 3,202,000 people 
composed this migration, and only 1,600,000 remained 
in the Chichimec territory. 

The Chichimecs occupied most of the ruined cities, 
many of which they rebuilt. Those Toltecs who 
remained became peaceful subjects, and through their 
knowledge of commerce and handicrafts amassed con- 
siderable wealth. A tribute was, however, demanded 
from them, which was peremptorily refused by Nauhyotl, 
the Toltec ruler of Colhuacan ; but he was defeated 
and slain, and the Chichimec rule was at last supreme. 

The Disappearance of the Toltecs 

The transmitters of this legendary account give it as 
their belief, which is shared by some authorities of 
standing, that the Toltecs, fleeing from the civil broils 
of their city and the inroads of the Chichimecs, passed 
into Central America, where they became the founders 
of the civilisation of that country, and the architects of 
the many wonderfulcities the ruins of which now litter 
its plains and are encountered in its forests. But it is 
time that we examined the claims put forward on behalf 
of Toltec civilisation and culture by the aid of more 
scientific methods. 

Did the Toltecs Exist? 

Some authorities have questioned the existence of the 

Toltecs, and have professed to see in them a race which 



had merely a mythical significance. They base this 
theory upon the circumstance that the duration of the 
reigns of the several Toltec monarchs is very frequently 
stated to have lasted for exactly fifty-two years, the 
duration of the great Mexican cycle of years which 
had been adopted so that the ritual calendar might 
coincide with the solar year. The circumstance is 
certainly suspicious, as is the fact that many of the 
names of the Toltec monarchs are also those of the 
principal Nahua deities, and this renders the whole 
dynastic list of very doubtful value. Dr. Brinton 
recognised in the Toltecs those children of the sun 
who, like their brethren in Peruvian mythology, were 
sent from heaven to civilise the human race, and his 
theory is by no means weakened by the circumstance 
that Quetzalcoatl, a deity of solar significance, is alluded 
to in Nahua myth as King of the Toltecs. Recent 
considerations and discoveries, however, have virtually 
forced students of the subject to admit the existence of 
the Toltecs as a race. The author has dealt with the 
question at some length elsewhere, 1 and is not of those 
who are free to admit the definite existence of the 
Toltecs from a historical point of view. The late Mr. 
Payne of Oxford, an authority entitled to every respect, 
gave it as his opinion that "the accounts of Toltec 
history current at the conquest contain a nucleus of 
substantial truth," and he writes convincingly : "To 
doubt that there once existed in Tollan an advancement 
superior to that which prevailed among the Nahuatlaca 
generally at the conquest, and that its people spread 
their advancement throughout Anahuac, and into the 
districts eastward and southward, would be to reject 
a belief universally entertained, and confirmed rather 
than shaken by the efforts made in later times to 

1 Sec Civilisation of Ancient Mexico , chap, ii. 



construct for the Pueblo something in the nature of a 
history," 1 

A Persistent Tradition 

The theory of the present author concerning Toltec 
historical existence is rather more non-committal. He 
admits that a most persistent body of tradition as to 
their existence gained general credence among the 
Nahua, and that the date (1055) of their alleged 
dispersal admits of the approximate exactness and 
probability 'of this body of tradition at the time of the 
conquest. He also admits that the site of Tollan 
contains ruins which are undoubtedly of a date earlier 
than that of the architecture of the Nahua as known 
at the conquest, and that numerous evidences of an 
older civilisation exist. He also believes that the early 
Nahua having within their racial recollection existed as 
savages, the time which elapsed between their barbarian 
condition and the more advanced state which they 
achieved was too brief to admit of evolution from 
savagery to culture. Hence they must have adopted 
an older civilisation, especially as through the veneer of 
civilisation possessed by them they exhibited every sign 
of gross barbarism. 

A Nameless People 

If this be true it would go to show that a people of 
comparatively high culture existed at a not very remote 
period on the Mexican tableland. But what their name 
was or their racial affinity the writer does not profess to 
know. Many modern American scholars of note have 
conferred upon them the name of "Toltecs/* and speak 
freely of the "Toltec period" and of "Toltec art." 
It may appear pedantic to refuse to recognise that the 
* Payne, Hist. New World, vol. ii*. p. 430. 


cultured people who dwelt in Mexico in pre-Nahua 
times were "the Toltecs." But in the face of the 
absence of genuine and authoritative native written 
records dealing with the question, the author finds him- 
self compelled to remain unconvinced as to the exact 
designation of the mysterious older race which preceded 
the Nahua. There are not wanting authorities who appear 
to regard the pictorial chronicles of the Nahua as quite 
as worthy of credence as written records, but it must be 
clear that tradition or even history set down in pictorial 
form can never possess that degree of definiteness con- 
tained in a written account. 

Toltec Art 

As has been stated above, the Toltecs of tradition 
were chiefly remarkable for their intense love of art and 
their productions in its various branches. Ixtlilxochitl 
says that they worked in gold, silver, copper, tin, and 
lead, and as masons employed flint, porphyry, basalt, 
and obsidian. In the manufacture of jewellery and 
objets d'art they excelled, and the pottery of Cholula, 
of which specimens are frequently recovered, was of a 
high standard. 

Other Aboriginal Peoples 

Mexico contained other aboriginal races besides the 
Toltecs. Of these many and diverse peoples the most 
remarkable were the Otomi, who still occupy Guanajuato 
and Queretaro, and who, before the coming of the 
Nahua, probably spread over the entire valley o\ Mexico. 
In the south we find the Huasteca, a people speaking 
the same language as the Maya of Central America, and 
on the Mexican Gulf the Totonacs and Chontals. On 
the Pacific side of the country the Mixteca and Zapoteca 
were responsible for a flourishing civilisation which 



exhibited many original characteristics, and which in 
some degree was a link between the cultures of Mexico 
and Central America. Traces of a still older population 
than any of these are still to be found in the more 
remote parts of Mexico, and the Mixe, Zaque, 
Kuicatec, and Popolcan are probably the remnants of 
prehistoric races of vast antiquity. 

The Cliff 'dwellers 

It is probable that a race known as "the Cliff- 
dwellers," occupying the plateau country of Arizona, 
New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, and even extending 
in its ramifications to Mexico itself, was related ethno- 
logically to the Nahua. The present-day Pueblo Indians 
dwelling to the north of Mexico most probably possess a 
leaven of Nahua blood. Ere the tribes who communi- 
cated this leaven to the whole had intermingled with others 
of various origin, it would appear that they occupied 
with others those tracts of country now inhabited by the 
Pueblo Indians, and in the natural recesses and shallow 
caverns found in the faces of the cliffs erected dwellings 
and fortifications, displaying an architectural ability of 
no mean order. These communities extended as far 
south as the Gila river, the most southern affluent of the 
Colorado, and the remains they have left there appear 
to be of a later date architecturally than those situated 
farther north. These were found in ruins by the first 
Spanish explorers, and it is thought that their builders 
were eventually driven back to rejoin their kindred 
in the north. Fartner to the south in the canons of 
the Piedras Verdes river in Chihuahua, Mexico, are 
cliff-dwellings corresponding in many respects with 
those of the Pueblo region, and Dr. Hrdlicka has 
examined others so far south as the State of Jalisco, in 
Central Mexico. These may be the ruins of dwellings 


erected either by the early Nahua or by some of the 
peoples relatively aboriginal to them, and may display 
the architectural features general among the Nahua 
prior to their adoption of other alien forms. Or else 
they may be the remains of dwellings similar to those 
of the Tarahumare, a still existing tribe of Mexico, 
who, according to Lumholtz, 1 inhabit similar structures 
at the present day. It is clear from the architectural 
development of the cliff-dwellers that their civilisa- 
tion developed generally from south to north, that 
this race was cognate to the early Nahua, and that it 
later withdrew to the north, or became fused with 
the general body of the Nahua peoples. It must not 
be understood, however, that the race arrived in the 
Mexican plateau before the Nahua, and the ruins of 
Jalisco and other mid-Mexican districts may merely be 
the remains of comparatively modern cliff-dwellings, 
an adaptation by mid-Mexican communities of the 
" Cliff-dweller " architecture, or a local development 
of it owing to the exigencies of early life in the 

The Nahua Pace 

The Nahua peoples included all those tribes speaking 

the Nahuatlatolli (Nahua tongue), and occupied a sphere 

extending: from the southern borders of New Mexico to 

the isthmus of Tehuantepec on the south, or very 

much within the limits of the modern Republic ot 

Mexico. But this people must not be regarded as one 

race of homogeneous origin. A very brief account of 

their racial affi lities must be sufficient here. The 

Chichimecs were probably related to the Otomi, whom 

we have alluded to as among the first-comers to the 

1 Unknown Mexico^ vol. i., 1 902; also sec Bulletin 30, Bureau of 
American Ethnology, p. 309. 



Mexican valley. They were traditionally supposed to 
have entered it at a period subsequent to the Toltec 
occupation. Their chief towns were Tezcuco and Tena- 
yucan, but they later allied themselves with the Nahua 
in a great confederacy, and adopted the Nahua language. 
There are circumstances which justify the assumption 
that on their entrance to the Mexican valley they con- 
sisted of a number of tribes loosely united, presenting 
in their general organisation a close resemblance to 
some of the composite tribes of modern American 

The Aculhuaque 

Next to them in point of order of tribal arrival were the 
Aculhuaque, or Acolhuans. The name means "tall" or 
"strong" men, literally "People of the Broad Shoulder," 
or "Pushers," who made a way for themselves.. Gomara 
states in his Conquista de Mexico that they arrived in the 
valley from Acolhuacan about a.d. 780, and founded 
the towns of Tollan, Colhuacan, and Mexico itself. 
The Acolhuans were pure Nahua, and may well have 
been the much-disputed Toltecs, for the Nahua people 
always insisted on the feet that the Toltecs were of the 
same stock as themselves, and spoke an older and 
purer form of the Nahua tongue. From the Acolhuans 
sprang the Tlascalans, the inveterate enemies of the 
Aztecs, who so heartily assisted Cortes in his invasion 
of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, or Mexico. 

The Tecpanecs 

The Tecpanecs were a confederacy of purely Nahua 
tribes dwelling in towns situated upon the Lake of 
Tezcuco, the principal of which were Tlacopan and 
Azcapozalco. The name Tecpanec signifies that each 
settlement possessed its own chief's house, or tecpan. 




a ^ « 




















This tribe were almost certainly later Nahua immigrants 
who arrived in Mexico after the Acolhuans, and were 
great rivals to the Chichimec branch of the race. 

The Aztecs 

The Azteca, or Aztecs, were a nomad tribe of doubtful 
origin, but probably of Nahua blood. Wandering over 
the Mexican plateau for generations, they at length 
settled in the marshlands near the Lake of Tezcuco, 
hard by Tlacopan. The name Azteca means " Crane 
People," and was bestowed upon the tribe by the 
Tecpanecs, probably because of the fact that, like 
cranes, they dwelt in a marshy neighbourhood. They 
founded the town of Tenochtitlan, or Mexico, and 
for a while paid tribute to the Tecpanecs. But later 
they became the most powerful allies of that people, 
whom they finally surpassed entirely in power and 

The Aztec Character 

The features of the Aztecs as represented in the 
various Mexican paintings are typically Indian, and argue 
a northern origin. The race was, and is, of average 
height, and the skin is of a dark brown hue. The 
Mexican is grave, taciturn, and melancholic, with a 
deeply rooted love of the mysterious, slow to anger, 
yet almost inhuman in the violence of his passions 
when aroused. He is usually gifted with a logical 
mind, quickness of apprehension, and an ability to 
regard the subtle side of things with great nicety. 
Patient and imitative, the ancient Mexican excelled in 
those arts which demanded such qualities in their exe- 
cution. He had a real affection for the beautiful in 
nature and a passion for flowers, but the Aztec music 
lacked gaiety, and the national amusements were too 



often of a gloomy and ferocious character. The women 
are more vivacious than the men, but were in the days 
before the conquest very subservient to the wills of 
their husbands. We have already very briefly out- 
lined the trend of Nahua civilisation, but it will be 
advisable to examine it a little more closely, for if 
the myths of this people are to be understood 
some knowledge of its life and general culture is 

Legends of the Foundation of Mexico 

At the period of the conquest of Mexico by Cortes 
the city presented an imposing appearance. Led to its 
neighbourhood by Huitzilopochtli, a traditional chief, 
afterwards deified as the god of war, there are several 
legends which account for the choice of its site by the 
Mexicans. The most popular of these relates how the 
nomadic Nahua beheld perched upon a cactus plant an 
eagle of great size and majesty, grasping in its talons a 
huge serpent, and spreading its wings to catch the rays 
of the ruing sun. The soothsayers or medicine-men 
of the tribe, reading a good omen in the spectacle, 
advised the leaders of the people to settle on the spot, 
and, hearkening to the voice of what they considered 
divine authority, they proceeded to drive piles into the 
marshy ground, and thus laid the foundation of the 
r^great city of Mexico. r 

^ An elaboration of this legend tells how the Aztecs 
J> had about the year 1325 sought refuge upon the 
western shore ot the Lake of Tezcuco, in an island 
among the marshes on which they found a stone on 
which forty years before one of their priests had sacri- 
ficed a prince of the name of Copal, whom they had 
made prisoner. A nopal plant had sprung from an 

earth-filled crevice in this rude altar, and upon this 

2 : ; 


the royal eagle alluded to in the former account had 
alighted, grasping the serpent in his talons. Beholding 
in this a good omen, and urged by a supernatural 
impulse which he could not explain, a priest of high 
rank dived into a pool close at hand, where he found 
himself face to face with Tlaloc, the god of waters. 
After an interview with the deity the priest obtained 
permission from him to found a city on the site, from 
the humble beginnings of which arose the metropolis 
of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. 

Mexico at the Conquest 

At the period of the conquest the city of Mexico 
had a circumference of no less than twelve miles, or 
nearly that of modern Berlin without its suburbs. It 
contained 60,000 houses, and its inhabitants were 
computed to number 300,000. Many other towns, 
most of them nearly half as large, were grouped 
on the islands or on the margin of Lake Tezcuco, so 
that the population of what might almost be called 
" Greater Mexico " must have amounted to several 
millions. The city was intersected by four great road- 
ways or avenues built at right angles to one another, 
and laid four-square with the cardinal points. Situated 
as it was in the midst of a lake, it was traversed by 
numerous canals, which were used as thoroughfares for 
traffic. The four principal ways described above were 
extended across the lake as dykes or viaducts until they 
met its shores. The dwellings of the poorer classes 
were chiefly composed of adobes, but chose of the 
nobility were built of a red porous stone quarried 
close by. They were usually of one story only, but 
occupied a goodly piece of ground and had flat roofs, 
many of which were covered with flowers. In general 
they were coated with a hard, white cement, which 



gave them an added resemblance to the Oriental type 
of building. 

Towering high among these, and a little apart from 
the vast squares and market-places, were the teocallis y 
or temples. These were in reality not temples or 
covered-in buildings, but " high places," great pyramids 
of stone, built platform on platform, around which a 
staircase led to the summit, on which was usually 
erected a small shrine containing the tutelar deity to 
whom the teocalli had been raised. The great temple of 
Huitzilopochtli, the war-god, built by King Ahuizotl, 
was, besides being typical of all, by far the greatest of 
these votive piles. The enclosing walls of the building 
were 4800 feet in circumference, and strikingly decorated 
by carvings representing festoons of intertwined reptiles, 
from which circumstance they were called coetpantli 
(walls of serpents). A kind of gate-house on each 
side gave access to the enclosure. The teocalH y or 
great temple, inside the court was in the shape of a 
parallelogram, measuring 375 feet by 300 feet, and was 
built in six platforms, growing smaller in area as they 
descended. The mass of this structure was composed 
of a mixture of rubble, clay, and earth, covered with 
carefully worked stone slabs, cemented together with 
infinite care, and coated with a hard gypsum. A flight 
of 340 steps circled round the terraces and led to the 
upper platform, on which were raised two three-storied 
towers 56 feet in height, in which stood the great 
statues of the tutelar deities and the jasper stones of 
sacrifice. These sanctuaries, say the old Conquistadores 
who entered them, had the appearance and odour of 
shambles, and human blood was bespattered every- 
where. In this weird chapel of horrors burned a fire 
the extinction of which it was supposed would have 
brought about the end of the Nahua power. It was 

• '\ •■ ■ ♦ _ • 

The Guardian of the Sacred Fire 
Gilbert James 




tended with a care as scrupulous as that with which the 
Roman Vestals guarded their sacred flame. No less 
than 600 of these sacred braziers were kept alight in 
the city of Mexico alone. 

A Pyramid of Skulls 

The principal fane of Huitzilopochtli was surrounded 
by upwards of forty inferior teocallis and shrines. In 
the Tzompantli (Pyramid of Skulls) were collected 
the grisly relics of the countless victims to the implac- 
able war-god of the Aztecs, and in this horrid struc- 
ture the Spanish conquerors counted no less than 
136,000 human skulls. In the court or teopan which 
surrounded the temple were the dwellings of thousands 
of priests, whose duties included the scrupulous care of 
the temple precincts, and whose labours were minutely 

Nahua Architecture and Ruins 

As we shall see later, Mexico is by no means so rich 
in architectural antiquities as Guatemala or Yucatan, 
the reason being that the growth of tropical forests has 
to a great extent protected ancient stone edifices in the 
latter countries from destruction. The ruins discovered 
in the northern regions of the republic are of a ruder 
type than those which approach more nearly to the 
sphere of Maya influence, as, for example, those of 
Mitla, built by the Zapotecs, which exhibit such un- 
mistakable signs of Maya influence that we prefer to 
describe them when dealing with the antiquities of that 

Cyclopean Remains 

In the mountains of Chihuahua, one of the most 
northerly provinces, is a celebrated group called the 


Casas Grandes (Large Houses), the walls of which are 
still about 30 feet in height. These approximate in 
general appearance to the buildings of more modern 
tribes in New Mexico and Arizona, and may be re- 
ferred to such peoples rather than to the Nahua. At 
Quemada, in Zacatecas, massive ruins of Cyclopean 
appearance have been discovered. These consist of 
extensive terraces and broad stone causeways, teocallis 
which have weathered many centuries, and gigantic 
pillars, 18 feet in height and 17 feet in circumference. 
Walls 12 feet in thickness rise above the heaps of 
rubbish which litter the ground. These remains 
exhibit little connection with Nahua architecture to 
the north or south of them. They are more massive 
than either, and must have been constructed by some 
race which had made considerable strides in the art of 


In the district of the Totonacs, to the north of Vera 
Cruz, we find many architectural remains of a highly 
interesting character. Here the teocalli or pyramidal 
type of building is occasionally crowned by a covered- 
in temple with the massive roof characteristic of Maya 
architecture. The most striking examples found in 
this region are the remains of Teotihuacan and Xochi- 
calco. The former was the religious Mecca of the 
Nahua races, and in its proximity are still to be seen 
the teocallis of the sun and moon, surrounded by ex- 
tensive burying-grounds where the devout of Anahuac 
were laid in the sure hope that if interred they would 
find entrance into the paradise of the sun. The teocalli 
of the moon has a base covering 426 feet and a height 
of 137 feet. That of the sun is of greater dimensions, 
with a base of 73 c feet and a height of 203 feet. These 

Pyramid of the Moon, San Juan Teotihuacan 

Photo C. B. Waite, Mexico 

Pyramid of the Sun, San Juan Teotihuacan 

Photo C. B. Waite, Mexico 




pyramids were divided into four stories, three of which 
remain. On the summit of that of the sun stood a temple 
containing a great image of that luminary carved from 
a rough block of stone. In the breast was inlaid a star 
of the purest gold, seized afterwards as loot by the in- 
satiable followers of Cortes. From the teocalli of the 
moon a path runs to where a little rivulet flanks the 
"Citadel." This path is known as "The Path of the 
Dead," from the circumstance that it is surrounded 
by some nine square miles of tombs and tumuli, and, 
indeed, forms a road through the great cemetery. 
The Citadel, thinks Charnay, was a vast tennis or 
tlachtli court, where thousands flocked to gaze at the 
national sport of the Nahua with a zest equal to that 
of the modern devotees of football. Teotihuacan was 
a flourishing centre contemporary with Tollan. It was 
destroyed, but was rebuilt by the Chichimec king 
Xolotl, and preserved thenceforth its traditional sway 
as the focus of the Nahua national religion. Charnay 
identifies the architectural types discovered there with 
those of Tollan. The result of his labours in the 
vicinity included the unearthing of richly decorated 
pottery, vases, masks, and terra-cotta figures. He also 
excavated several large houses or palaces, some with 
chambers more than 730 feet in circumference, with 
walls over *]\ feet thick, into which were built rings 
and slabs to support torches and candles. The floors 
were tessellated in various rich designs, " like an 
Aubusson carpet." Charnay concluded that the monu- 
ments of Teotihuacan were partly standing at the time 
of the conquest. 

The Hill of Flowers 

Near Tezcuco is Xochicalco (The Hill of Flowers), 
a teocalli the sculpture of which is both beautiful 

« 53 


and luxuriant in design. The porphyry quarries from 
which the great blocks, 12 feet in length, were cut lie 
many miles away. As late as 1755 the structure 
towered to a height of five stories, but the vandal has 
done his work only too well, and a few fragmentary 
carvings of exquisite design are all that to-day remain 
of one of Mexico's most magnificent pyramids. 


We have already indicated that on the site of the 
"Toltec" city of Tollan ruins have been discovered 
which prove that it was the centre of a civilisation of 
a type distinctly advanced. Charnay unearthed there 
gigantic fragments of caryatides, each some 7 feet high. 
He also found columns of two pieces, which were fitted 
together by means of mortise and tenon, bas-reliefs of 
archaic figures of undoubted Nahua type, and many 
fragments of great antiquity. On the hill of Palpan, 
above Tollan, he found the ground-plans of several 
houses with numerous apartments, frescoed, columned, 
and having benches and cisterns recalling the implu- 
vium of a Roman villa. Water-pipes were also actually 
unearthed, and a wealth of pottery, many pieces of 
which were like old Japanese china. The ground-plan 
or foundations of the houses unearthed at Palpan 
showed that they had been designed by practical 
architects, and had not been built in any merely hap- 
hazard fashion. The cement which covered the walls 
and floors was of excellent quality, and recalled that 
discovered in ancient Italian excavations. The roofs 
had been of wood, supported by pillars. 


The Aztecs, and indeed the entire Nahua race, 
employed a system of writing of the type scientifically 















• f-t 




















• *M 





described as " pictographic," in which events, persons, 
and ideas were recorded by means of drawings and 
coloured sketches. These were executed on paper 
made from the agave plant, or were painted on the 
skins of animals. By these means not only history 
and the principles of the Nahua mythology were 
communicated from generation to generation, but the 
transactions of daily life, the accountings of merchants, 
and the purchase and ownership of land were placed 
on record. That a phonetic system was rapidly being 
approached is manifest from the method by which the 
Nahua scribes depicted the names of individuals or 
cities. These were represented by means of several 
objects, the names of which resembled that of the 
person for which they stood. The name of King 
Ixcoatl, for example, is represented by the drawing of 
a serpent (coatl) pierced by flint knives (iztli) y and that 
of Motequauhzoma (Montezuma) by a mouse-trap 
(montli)) an eagle {quauhtli)^ a lancet (zo), and a hand 
{maid). The phonetic values employed by the scribes 
varied exceedingly, so that at times an entire syllable 
would be expressed by the painting of an object the 
name of which commenced with it. At other times 
only a letter would be represented by the same drawing. 
But the general intention of the scribes was undoubtedly 
more ideographic than phonetic ; that is, they desired 
to convey their thoughts more by sketch than by sound. 

Interpretation of the Hieroglyphs 

These pinturas> as the Spanish conquerors desig- 
nated them, offer no very great difficulty in their 
elucidation to modern experts, at least so far as the 
general trend of their contents is concerned. In this 
they are unlike the manuscripts of the Maya of Central 
America with which we shall make acquaintance further 


on. Their interpretation was largely traditional, and 
was learned by rote, being passed on by one generation 
of amamatini (readers) to another, and was by no 
means capable of elucidation by all and sundry. 

Native Manuscripts 

The pinturas or native manuscripts which remain 
to us are but few in number. Priestly fanaticism, 
which ordained their wholesale destruction, and the 
still more potent passage of time have so reduced 
them that each separate example is known to biblio- 
philes and Americanists the world over. In such as 
still exist we can observe great fullness of detail, repre- 
senting for the most part festivals, sacrifices, tributes, 
and natural phenomena, such as eclipses and floods, and 
the death and accession of monarchs. These events, 
and the supernatural beings who were supposed to 
control them, were depicted in brilliant colours, executed 
by means of a brush of feathers. 

The Interpretative Codices 

Luckily for future students of Mexican history, the 
blind zeal which destroyed the majority of the Mexican 
manuscripts was frustrated by the enlightenment of 
certain European scholars, who regarded the wholesale 
destruction of the native records as little short of a 
calamity, and who took steps to seek out the few 
remaining native artists, from whom they procured 
copies of the more important paintings, the details of 
which were, of course, quite familiar to them. To 
those were added interpretations taken down from the 
lips of the native scribes themselves, so that no doubt 
might remain regarding the contents of the manuscripts. 
These are known as the " Interpretative Codices," and 
are of considerable assistance to the student of Mexican 


history and customs. Three only are in existence. 
The Oxford Codex, treasured in the Bodleian Library, 
is of a historical nature, and contains a full list of the 
lesser cities which were subservient to Mexico in its 
palmy days. The Paris or Tellerio-Remensis Codex, 
so called from having once been the property of 
Le Tellier, Archbishop of Rheims, embodies many 
facts concerning the early settlement of the various 
Nahua city-states. The Vatican MSS. deal chiefly 
with mythology and the intricacies of the Mexican 
calendar system. Such Mexican paintings as were 
unassisted by an interpretation are naturally of less 
value to present-day students of the lore of the Nahua. 
They are principally concerned with calendric matter, 
ritualistic data, and astrological computations or horo- 

The Mexican " Book of the Dead " 

Perhaps the most remarkable and interesting manu- 
script in the Vatican collection is one the last pages of 
which represent the journey of the soul after death 
through the gloomy dangers of the Other-world. This 
has been called the Mexican " Book of the Dead." 
The corpse is depicted dressed for burial, the soul escap- 
ing from its earthly tenement byway of the mouth. The 
spirit is ushered into the presence of Tezcatlipoca, the 
Jupiter of the Aztec pantheon, by an attendant dressed 
in an ocelot skin, and stands naked with a wooden yoke 
round the neck before the deity, to receive sentence. 
The dead person is given over to the tests which pre- 
cede entrance to the abode of the dead, the realm of 
Mictlan, and so that he may not have to meet the 
perils of the journey in a defenceless condition a sheaf 
of javelins is bestowed upon him. He first passes 
between two lofty peaks, which may fall and crush him 



if he cannot skilfully escape them. A terrible serpent 
then intercepts his path, and, if he succeeds in defeating 
this monster, the fierce alligator Xochitonal awaits him. 
Eight deserts and a corresponding number of mountains 
have then to be negotiated by the hapless spirit, and a 
whirlwind sharp as a sword, which cuts even through 
solid rocks, must be withstood. Accompanied by the 
shade of his favourite dog, the harassed ghost at length 
encounters the fierce Izpuzteque, a demon with the 
backward-bent legs of a cock, the evil Nextepehua, the 
fiend who scatters clouds of ashes, and many another 
grisly foe, until at last he wins to the gates of the 
Lord of Hell, before whom he does reverence, after 
which he is free to greet his friends who have gone 

The Calendar System 

As has been said, the calendar system was the source 
of all Mexican science, and regulated the recurrence of 
all religious rites and festivals. In fact, the entire 
mechanism of Nahua life was resident in its provisions. 
The type of time-division and computation exemplified 
in the Nahua calendar was also found among the Maya 
peoples of Yucatan and Guatemala and the Zapotec 
people of the boundary between the Nahua and Maya 
races. By which of these races it was first employed is 
unknown. But the Zapotec calendar exhibits signs or 
both Nahua and Maya influence, and from this it has 
been inferred that the calendar systems of these races 
have been evolved from it. It might with equal 
probability be argued that both Nahua and Maya art 
were offshoots of Zapotec art, because the characteristics 
of both are discovered in it, whereas the circumstance 
merely illustrates the very natural acceptance by a 
border people, who settled down to civilisation at a 

The Spirit of the dead Aztec is attacked by an Evil Spirit 

who scatters Clouds of Ashes 

Gilbert James 




relatively later date, of the artistic tenets of the two 
greater peoples who environed them. The Nahua 
and Maya calendars were in all likelihood evolved 
from the calendar system of that civilised race which 
undoubtedly existed on the Mexican plateau prior to 
the coming of the later Nahua swarms, and which in 
general is loosely alluded to as the "Toltec." 

The Mexican Year 

The Mexican year was a cycle of 365 days, without 
any intercalary addition or other correction. In course 
of time it almost lost its seasonal significance because 
of the omission of the extra hours included in the 
solar year, and furthermore many of its festivals and 
occasions were altered by high-priests and rulers to 
suit their convenience. The Mexican nexiuhilpililztli 
(binding of years) contained fifty-two years, and ran 
in two separate cycles — one of fifty-two years of 365 
days each, and another of seventy-three groups of 
260 days each. The first was of course the solar year, 
and embraced eighteen periods of twenty days each, 
called " months *' by the old Spanish chroniclers, with 
five nemontemi (unlucky days) over and above. These 
days were not intercalated, but were included in the year, 
and merely overflowed the division of the year into 
periods or twenty days. The cycle of seventy-three 
groups of 260 days, subdivided into groups of thirteen 
days, was called the " birth-cycle." 

Lunar Reckoning 

People in a barbarous condition almost invariably 
reckon time by the period between the waxing and 
waning of the moon as distinct from the entire passage 
of a lunar revolution, and this period of twenty days 



will be found to be the basis in the time-reckoning of 
the Mexicans, who designated it cempohualli. Each 
day included in it was denoted by a sign, as " house," 
"snake," "wind," and so forth. Each cempohualli 
was subdivided* into four periods of five days each, 
sometimes alluded to as " weeks " by the early Spanish 
writers, and these were known by the sign or their 
middle or third day. These day-names ran on without 
reference to the length of the year. The year itself 
was designated by the name of the middle day of the 
week in which it began. Out of twenty day-names in 
the Mexican " month " it was inevitable that the four 
calli (house), tochtli (rabbit), acatl (reed), and tecpah 
(flint) should always recur in sequence because of the 
incidence of these days in the Mexican solar year. Four 
years made up a year of the sun. During the nemontemi 
(unlucky days) no work was done, as they were regarded 
as ominous and unwholesome. 

We have seen that the civil year permitted the day- 
names to run on continuously from one year to another. 
The ecclesiastical authorities, however, had a reckon- 
ing of their own, and mad£ the year begin always on 
the first day of their calendar, no matter what sign 
denominated that day in the civil system. 

Groups of Years 

As has been indicated, the years were formed into 
Toups. Thirteen years constituted a xiumalpilli 
bundle), and four of these a nexiuhilpilitztli (com- 
plete binding of the years). Each year had thus a 
double aspect, first as an individual period of time, 
and secondly as a portion of the "year of the sun," 
and these were so numbered and named that each 
year in the series of fifty-two possessed a different 

The Demon Izpuzteque 

Photo Mansell & Co. 



the birth<:ycle 

The Dread of the Last Day 

With the conclusion of each period of fifty-two years 
a terrible dread came upon the Mexicans that the world 
would come to an end. A stated period of time had 
expired, a period which was regarded as fixed by divine 
command, and it had been ordained that on the com- 
pletion of one of those series of fifty-two years earthly 
time would cease and the universe be demolished. For 
some time before the ceremony of toxilmolpilia (the 
binding up of the years) the Mexicans abandoned 
themselves to the utmost prostration, and the wicked 
went about in terrible fear. As the first day of the 
fifty-third year dawned the people narrowly observed 
the Pleiades, for if they passed the zenith time would 
proceed and the world would be respited. The gods 
were placated or refreshed by the slaughter of the 
human victim, on whose still living breast a fire of 
wood was kindled by friction, the heart and body being 
consumed by the flames so lighted. As the planets of 
hope crossed the zenith loud acclamations resounded 
from the people, and the domestic hearths, which had 
been left cold and dead, were rekindled from the 
sacred fire which had consumed the sacrifice. Mankind 
was safe for another period. 

The Birth 'Cycle 

The birth-cycle, as we have said, consisted of 260 
days. It had originally been a lunar cycle of thirteen 
days, and once bore the names of thirteen moons. It 
formed part of the civil calendar, with which, however, 
it had nothing in common, as it was used for ecclesias- 
tical purposes only. The lunar names were abandoned 
later, and the numbers one to thirteen adopted in their 



Language of the Nahua 

The Nahua language represented a very low state of 
culture. Speech is the general measure of the standard 
of thought of a people, and if we judged the civilisation 
of the Nahua by theirs, we should be justified in con- 
cluding that they had not yet emerged from barbarism. 
But we must recollect that the Nahua of the conquest 
period had speedily adopted the older civilisation which 
they had found awaiting them on their entrance to 
Mexico, and had retained their own primitive tongue. 
The older and more cultured people who had preceded 
them probably spoke a more polished dialect of the 
same language, but its influence had evidently but little 
effect upon the rude Chichimecs and Aztecs. The 
Mexican tongue, like most American languages, belongs 
to the " incorporative " type, the genius of which is to 
unite all the related words in a sentence into one con- 
glomerate term or word, merging the separate words of 
which it is composed one into another by altering their 
forms, and so welding them together as to express the 
whole in one word. It will be at once apparent that 
such a system was clumsy in the extreme, and led to 
the creation of words and names of the most barbarous 
appearance and sound. In a narrative of the Spanish 
discovery written by Chimalpahin, the native chronicler 
of Chalco, born in 1579, we have, for example, such a 
passage as the following: Oc chiucnauhxihuitl ink onen 
quilantimanca Espana camo niman k yuh ca omacoc ihueliti- 
liztli ink niman ye chiuhcnauhxiuhtka y in oncan ohualla. 
This passage is chosen quite at random, and is an 
average specimen of literary Mexican of the sixteenth 
century. Its purport is, freely translated : " For nine 
years he [Columbus] remained in vain in Spain. Yea, 
for nine years there he waited for influence." The 
4 2 


clumsy and cumbrous nature of the language could 
scarcely be better illustrated tnan by pointing out that 
chiucnauhxihuitl signifies " nine years " ; quilantimanca^ 
"he below remained "; and omacoc ihuelitiliztli y "he has 
got his powerfulness." It must be recollected that this 
specimen of Mexican was composed by a person who 
had had the benefit of a Spanish education, and is cast 
in literary form. What the spoken Mexican of pre- 
conquest times was like can be contemplated with mis- 
giving in the grammars of the old Spanish missionaries, 
whose greatest glory is that they mastered such a lan- 
guage in the interests of their faith. 

Aztec Science 

The science of the Aztecs was, perhaps, one of the 
most picturesque sides of their civilisation. As with 
all peoples in a semi-barbarous state, it consisted chiefly 
in astrology and divination. Of the former the won- 
derful calendar system was the basis, and by its aid the 
priests, or those of them who were set apart for the 
study of the heavenly bodies, pretended to be able to 
tell the future of new-born infants and the progress of 
the dead in the other world. This they accomplished 
by weighing the influence of the planets and other 
luminaries one against another, and extracting the 
net result. Their art of divination consisted in drawing 
omens from the song and flight of birds, the appearance 
of grains of seed, feathers, and the entrails of animals, 
by which means they confidently predicted both public 
and private events. 

Nahua Government 

The limits of the Aztec Empire may be defined, if 
its tributary states are included, as extending over the 



territory comprised in the modern states of Mexico, 
Southern Vera Cruz, and Guerrero. Among the civi- 
lised peoples of this extensive tract the prevailing form 
of government was an absolute monarchy, although 
several of the smaller communities were republics. The 
law of succession, as with the Celts of Scotland, pre- 
scribed that the eldest surviving brother of the deceased 
monarch should be elected to his throne, and, failing 
him, the eldest nephew. But incompetent persons 
were almost invariably ignored by the elective body, 
although the choice was limited to one family. The 
ruler was generally selected both because of his military 
prowess and his ecclesiastical and political knowledge. 
Indeed, a Mexican monarch was nearly always a man of 
the highest culture and artistic refinement, and the ill- 
fated Montezuma was an example of the true type of 
Nahua sovereign. The council of the monarch was 
composed of the electors and other personages of im- 
portance in the realm. It undertook the government 
of the provinces, the financial affairs of the country, and 
other matters of national import. The nobility held all 
the highest military, judicial, and ecclesiastical offices. 
To each city and province judges were delegated who 
exercised criminal and civil jurisdiction, and whose 
opinion superseded even that of the Crown itself. 
Petty cases were settled by lesser officials, and a still 
inferior grade of officers acted as a species of police in 
the supervision of families. 

Domestic Life 

The domestic life of the Nahua was a peculiar admix- 
ture of simplicity and display. The mass of the people 
led a life of strenuous labour in the fields, and in 
the cities they wrought hard at many trades, among 
which may be specified building, metal- working, making 

The Aztec Calendar Stone 

See page 38 

Photo C. B. Waite, Mexico 




robes and other articles of bright featherwork and 
quilted suits of armour, jewellery, and small wares. 
Vendors of flowers, fruit, fish, and vegetables swarmed 
in the markets. The use of tobacco was general among 
the men of all classes. At banquets the women attended, 
although they were seated at separate tables. The enter- 
tainments of the upper class were marked by much 
magnificence, and the variety of dishes was consider- 
able, including venison, turkey, many smaller birds, 
fish, a profusion of vegetables, and pastry, accompanied 
by sauces of delicate flavour. These were served in 
dishes of gold and silver. Pulque, a fermented drink 
brewed from the agave, was the universal beverage. 
Cannibalism was indulged in usually on ceremonial 
occasions, and was surrounded by such refinements of 
the table as served only to render it the more repulsive 
in the eyes of Europeans. It has been stated that this 
revolting practice was engaged in owing solely to 
the tenets of the Nahua religion, which enjoined the 
slaughter of slaves or captives in the name of a deity, 
and their consumption with the idea that the con- 
sumers attained unity with that deity in the flesh. But 
there is good reason to suspect that the Nahua, deprived 
of the flesh of the larger domestic animals, practised 
deliberate cannibalism. It would appear that the older 
race which preceded them in the country were innocent 
of these horrible repasts. 

A Mysterious Toltec Book 

A piece of Nahua literature, the disappearance of 
which is surrounded by circumstances of the deepest 
mystery, is the Teo-Ainoxtli (Divine Book), which 
is alleged by certain chroniclers to have been the work 
of the ancient Toltecs. Ixtlilxochitl, a native Mexican 
author, states that it was written by a Tezcucan wise 



man, one Huematzin, about the end of the seventh 
century, and that it described the pilgrimage of the 
Nahua from Asia, their laws, manners, and customs, 
and their religious tenets, science, and arts. In 1838 
the Baron de Waldeck stated in his Voyage Pit- 
toresque that he had it in his possession, and the 
Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg identified it with the 
Maya Dresden Codex and other native manuscripts. 
Bustamante also states that the amamatini (chroniclers) 
of Tezcuco had a copy in their possession at the time of 
the taking of their city. But these appear to be mere 
surmises, and if the Teo-Amoxtli ever existed, which 
on the whole is not unlikely, it has probably never 
been seen by a European. 

A Native Historian 

One of the most interesting or the Mexican his- 
torians is Don Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl, a half- 
breed of royal Tezcucan descent. He was responsible 
for two notable works, entitled Historia Chichimeca 
(The History of the Chichimecs) and the Relaciones, 
a compilation of historical and semi-historical incidents. 
He was cursed, or blessed, however, by a strong leaning 
toward the marvellous, and has coloured his narratives 
so highly that he would have us regard the Toltec or 
ancient Nahua civilisations as by far the most splendid 
and magnificent that ever existed. His descriptions of 
Tezcuco, if picturesque in the extreme, are manifestly 
the outpourings of a romantic and idealistic mind, 
which in its patriotic enthusiasm desired to vindicate 
the country of his birth from the stigma of savagery and 
to prove its equality with the great nations of anti- 
quity. For this we have not the heart to quarrel with 
him. But we must be on our guard against accepting 
any of his statements unless we find strong corro- 


boration of it in the pages of a more trustworthy 
and less biased author. 

Nahua Topography 

The geography of Mexico is by no means as familiar 
to Europeans as is that of the various countries of our 
own continent, and it is extremely easy for the reader 
who is unacquainted with Mexico and the puzzling 
orthography of its place-names to flounder among them, 
and during the perusal of such a volume as this to find 
himself in a hopeless maze of surmise as to the exact 
locality of the more famous centres of Mexican history. 
A few moments* study of this paragraph will enlighten 
him in this respect, and will save him much confusion 
* further on. He will see from the map (p. 330) that 
the city of Mexico, or Tenochtitlan, its native name, 
was situated upon an island in the Lake of Tezcuco. 
This lake has now partially dried up, and the modern 
city of Mexico is situated at a considerable distance 
from it. Tezcuco, the city second in importance, lies 
to the north-east of the lake, and is somewhat more 
isolated, the other pueblos (towns) clustering round 
the southern or western shores. To the north of 
Tezcuco is Teotihuacan, the sacred city of the gods. To 
the south-east of Mexico is Tlaxcallan, or Tlascala, the 
city which assisted Cortes against the Mexicans, and the 
inhabitants of which were the deadliest foes of the 
central Nahua power. To the north lie the sacred city 
of Cholula and Tula, or Tollan. 

Distribution of the Nahua Tribes 

Having become acquainted with the relative position 
of the Nahua cities, we may now consult for a moment 
the map which exhibits the geographical distribution 


of the various Nahua tribes, and which is self-explana- 
tory (p. 331). 

Nahua History 

A brief historical sketch or epitome of what is known 
of Nahua history as apart from mere tradition will 
further assist the reader in the comprehension ot 
Mexican mythology. From the period of the settlement 
of the Nahua on an agricultural basis a system of feudal 
government had evolved, and at various epochs in the 
history of the country certain cities or groups of cities 
held a paramount sway. Subsequent to the "Toltec* 
period, which we have already described and discussed, 
we find the Acolhuans in supreme power, and ruling from 
their cities of Tollantzinco and Cholula a considerable 
tract of country. Later Cholula maintained an alliance 
with Tlascala and Huexotzinco. 

Bloodless Battles 

The maxim "Other climes, other manners" is no- 
where better exemplified than by the curious annual 
strife betwixt the warriors of Mexico and Tlascala. 
Once a year they met on a prearranged battle-ground 
and engaged in combat, not with the intention of killing 
one another, but with the object of taking prisoners for 
sacrifice on the altars of their respective war-gods. The 
warrior seized his opponent and attempted to bear him 
off, the various groups pulling and tugging desperately 
at each other in the endeavour to seize the limbs of the 
unfortunate who had been first struck down, with the 
object of dragging him into durance or effecting his 
rescue. Once secured, theTlascaltec warrior was brought 
to Mexico in a cage, and first placed upon a stone slab, 
to which one of his feet was secured by a chain or 

A Prisoner fighting for his Life 48 

He was painted white and tufts of cotton-wool were put on his head 

Gilbert James 



thong. He was then given light weapons, more like 
playthings than warrior's gear, and confronted by one 
of the most celebrated Mexican warriors. Should he 
succeed in defeating six of these formidable antagonists, 
he was set free. But no sooner was he wounded than 
he was hurried to the altar of sacrifice, and his heart was 
torn out and offered to Huitzilopochtli, the implacable 
god of war. 

The Tlascaltecs, having finally secured their position 
by a defeat of the Tecpanecs of Huexotzinco about 
a.d. 1384, sank into comparative obscurity save for 
their annual bout with the Mexicans. 

The Lake Cities 

The communities grouped round the various lakes 
in the valley of Mexico now command our attention. 
More than two score of these thriving communities 
flourished at the time of the conquest of Mexico, 
the most notable being those which occupied the 
borders of the Lake of Tezcuco. These cities 
grouped themselves round two nuclei, Azcapozalco 
and Tezcuco, between whom a fierce rivalry sprang 
up, which finally ended in the entire discomfiture of 
Azcapozalco. From this event the real history of 
Mexico may be said to commence. Those cities which 
had allied themselves to Tezcuco finally overran the 
entire territory of Mexico from the Mexican Gulf to 
the Pacific. 


If, as some authorities declare, Tezcuco was originally 

Otomi in affinity, it was in later years the most 

typically Nahuan of all the lacustrine powers. But 

several other communities, the power of which was very 

n 49 


nearly as great as that of Tezcuco, had assisted that 
city to supremacy. Among these was Xaltocan, a 
city-state of unquestionable Otomi origin, situated at 
the northern extremity of the lake. As we have seen 
from the statements of Ixtlilxochitl, a Tezcucan writer, 
his native city was in the forefront of Nahua civilisation 
at the time of the coming of the Spaniards, and if it 
was practically subservient to Mexico (Tenochtitlan) 
at that period it was by no means its inferior in the 

The Tccpanecs 

The Tecpanecs, who dwelt in Tlacopan, Coyohuacan, 
and Huitzilopocho, were also typical Nahua. The name, 
as we have already explained, indicates that each settle- 
ment possessed its own tecpan (chief's house), and has 
no racial significance. Their state was probably founded 
about the twelfth century, although a chronology of no 
less than fifteen hundred years was claimed for it. 
This people composed a sort of buffer-state betwixt the 
Otomi on the north and other Nahua on the south. 

The Aztecs 

The menace of these northern Otomi had become 
acute when the Tecpanecs received reinforcements in 
the shape of the Azteca, or Aztecs, a people of Nahua 
blood, who came, according to their own accounts, from 
Aztlan (Crane Land). The name Azteca signifies 
" Crane People," and this has led to the assumption 
that they came from Chihuahua, where cranes abound. 
Doubts have been cast upon the Nahua origin of the 
Azteca, But these are by no means well founded, as 
the names of the early Aztec chieftains and kings are 
unquestionably Nahuan. This people on their arrival 
in Mexico were in a very inferior state of culture, and 


were probably little better than savages. We have 
already outlined some of the legends concerning 
the coming of the Aztecs to the land of Anahuac, 
or the valley of Mexico, but their true origin is 
uncertain, and it is likely that they wandered down 
from the north as other Nahua immigrants did before 
them, and as the Apache Indians still do to this day. 
By their own showing they had sojourned at several 
points en route, and were reduced to slavery by the 
chiefs of Colhuacan. They proved so truculent in 
their bondage, however, that they were released, and 
journeyed to Chapoultepec, which they quitted because 
of their dissensions with the Xaltocanecs. On their 
arrival in the district inhabited by the Tecpanecs a 
tribute was levied upon them, but nevertheless they 
flourished so exceedingly that the swamp villages which 
the Tecpanecs had permitted them to raise on the 
borders of the lake soon grew into thriving communities, 
and chiefs were provided for them from among the 
nobility of the Tecpanecs. 

The Aztecs as Allies 

By the aid of the Aztecs the Tecpanecs greatly 
extended their territorial possessions. City after city 
was added to their empire, and the allies finally 
invaded the Otomi country, which they speedily 
subdued. Those cities which had been founded by 
the Acolhuans on the fringes of Tezcuco also allied 
themselves with the Tecpanecs with the intention of 
freeing themselves from the yoke of the Chichimecs, 
whose hand was heavy upon them. The Chichimecs 
or Tezcucans made a stern resistance, and for a time 
the sovereignty of the Tecpanecs hung in the balance. 
But eventually they conquered, and Tezcuco was over- 
thrown and given as a spoil to the Aztecs. 



New Powers 

Up to this time the Aztecs had paid a tribute to 
Azcapozalco, but now, strengthened by the successes 
of the late conflict, they withheld it, and requested 
permission to build an aqueduct from the shore for 
the purpose of carrying a supply of water into their 
city. This was refused by the Tecpanecs, and a policy 
of isolation was brought to bear upon Mexico, an 
embargo being placed upon its goods and intercourse 
with its people being forbidden. War followed, in 
which the Tecpanecs were defeated with great slaughter. 
After this event, which may be placed about the year 
1428, the Aztecs gained ground rapidly, and their 
march to the supremacy or the entire Mexican valley 
was almost undisputed. Allying themselves with 
Tezcuco and Tlacopan, the Mexicans overran many 
states far beyond the confines of the valley, and by the 
time of Montezuma I had extended their boundaries 
almost to the limits of the present republic. The 
Mexican merchant followed in the footsteps of the 
Mexican warrior, and the commercial expansion of the 
Aztecs rivalled their military fame. Clever traders, 
they were merciless in their exactions of tribute from 
the states they conquered, manufacturing the raw 
material paid to them by the subject cities into goods 
which they afterwards sold again to the tribes under 
their sway. Mexico became the chief market of the 
empire, as well as its political nucleus. Such was 
the condition of affairs when the Spaniards arrived in 
Anahuac. Their coming has been deplored by certain 
historians as hastening the destruction of a Western 
Eden. But bad as was their rule, it was probably 
mild when compared with the cruel and insatiable 
sway of the Aztecs over their unhappy dependents. 


The Spaniards found a tyrannical despotism in the 
conquered provinces, and a faith the accessories of 
which were so fiendish that it cast a gloom over the 
entire national life. These they replaced by a milder 
vassalage and the earnest ministrations of a more 
enlightened priesthood. 


From the Aubin-Goup'tl MS, 



Nahua Religion 

THE religion of the ancient Mexicans was a poly- 
theism or worship of a pantheon of deities, the 
general aspect of which presented similarities to 
the systems of Greece and Egypt. Original influences, 
however, were strong, and they are especially discern- 
ible in the institutions of ritualistic cannibalism and 
human sacrifice. Strange resemblances to Christian 
practice were observed j" J-hp Aztec mythology by the 
Spanish Conquistadores 1 who piously condemned the 
native customs of baptism, consubstantiation, and con- 
fession as frauds founded and perpetuated by diaboli c 

a gency. .. 

A superficial examination of the Nahua religion might 
lead to the inference that within its scope and system 
no definite theological views were embraced and no 
ethical principles propounded, and that the entire 
mythology presents only the fantastic attitude of the 
barbarian mind toward the eternal verities. Such a con- 
clusion would be both erroneous and unjust to a 
human intelligence of a type by no means debased. 
As a matter of fact, the Nahua displayed a theological 
advancement greatly superior to that of the Greeks or 
Romans, and quite on a level with that expressed by 
the Egyptians and Assyrians. Toward the period of 
the Spanish occupation the Mexican priesthood was 
undoubtedly advancing to the contemplation of the 
exaltation of one god, whose worship was fast excluding 
that of similar deities, and if our data are too imperfect 
to allow us to speak very fully in regard to this phase 
of religious advancement, we know at least that much of 
the Nahua ritual and many of the prayers preserved 
by the labours of the Spanish fathers are unquestionably 

■"■""" ■ • ■■■ '■ ■-■■ ■■:■ >--i: 

v w w o « ft." 5 


Priest making an Incantation over an Aztec Lady 

Gilbert James 




genuine, and display the attainment of a high religious 


Aztec theology postulated an eternity which, however, 
was not without its epochs. It was thought to be broken 
up into a number of aeons, each of which depended 
upon the period of duration of a separate "sun." No 
agreement is noticeable among authorities on Mexican 
mythology as to the number of these "suns," but it 
would appear as probable that the favourite tradition 
stipulated for four "suns" or epochs, each of which 
concluded with a national disaster — flood, famine, 
tempest, or fire. The present aeon, they feared, might 
conclude upon the completion of every "sheaf" of 
fifty-two years, the "sheaf" being a merely arbitrary 
portion of an aeon. The period of time from the first 
creation to the current aeon was variously computed as 
15,228, 2386, or 1404 solar years, the discrepancy and 
doubt arising because of the equivocal nature of the 
numeral signs expressing the period in the pin*uras y or 
native paintings. As regards the sequence of "suns" 
there is no more agreement than there is regarding their 
number. The Codex Vaticanus states it to have been 
water, wind, fire, and famine. Humboldt gives it as 
hunger, fire, wind, and water ; Boturini as water, 
famine, wind, and fire ; and Gama as hunger, wind, 
fire, and water. 

In all likelihood the adoption of tour ages arose from 
the sacred nature of that number. The myth doubtless 
shaped itself upon the tonalamatl (Mexican native 
calendar), the great repository of the wisdom of the 
Nahua race, which the priestly class regarded as its vadt 
mecum, and which was closely consulted by it on every 
occasion, civil or religious. 



The Sources of Mexican Mythology 

Our knowledge of the mythology of the Mexicans 
is chiefly gained through the works of those Spaniards, 
lay and cleric, who entered the country along with or 
immediately subsequent to the Spanish Conquistadores. 
From several of these we have what might be called 
first-hand accounts of the theogony and ritual of the 
Nahua people. The most valuable compendium is that 
of Father Bernardino Sahagun, entitled A General 
History of the Affairs of New Spain, which was pub- 
lished from manuscript only in the middle of last 
century, though written in the first half of the six- 
teenth century. Sahagun arrived in Mexico eight 
years after the country had been reduced by the 
Spaniards to a condition of servitude. He obtained 
a thorough mastery of the Nahuatl tongue, and con- 
ceived a warm admiration for the native mind and a 
deep interest in the antiquities of the conquered people. 
His method of collecting facts concerning their mytho- 
logy and history was as effective as it was ingenious. 
He held daily conferences with reliable Indians, and 
placed questions before them, to which they replied by 
symbolical paintings detailing the answers which he 
required. These he submitted to scholars who had 
been trained under his own supervision, and who, after 
consultation among themselves, rendered him a criticism 
in Nahuatl of the hieroglyphical paintings he had placed 
zt their disposal. Not content with this process, he 
subjected these replies to the criticism of a third body, 
after which the matter was included in his work. But 
ecclesiastical intolerance was destined to keep the work 
from publication for a couple of centuries. Afraid that 
such a volume would be successful in keeping alight 
the fires of paganism in Mexico, Sahagun's brethren 


refused him the assistance he required for its publication. 
But on his appealing to the Council of the Indies in 
Spain he was met with encouragement, and was ordered 
to translate his great work into Spanish, a task he 
undertook when over eighty years of age. He trans- 
mitted the work to Spain, and for three hundred years 
nothing more was heard of it. 

The Romance of the Lost "Sahagun" 

For generations antiquarians interested in the lore or 
ancient Mexico bemoaned its loss, until at length one 
Munoz, more indefatigable than the rest, chanced to 
visit the crumbling library of the ancient convent ot 
Tolosi, in Navarre. There, among time-worn manu- 
scripts and tomes relating to the early fathers and the 
intricacies of canon law, he discovered the lost Sahagun ! 
It was printed separately by Bustamante at Mexico and 
by Lord Kingsborough in his collection in 1830, and 
has been translated into French by M. Jourdanet. 
Thus the manuscript commenced in or after 1530 was 
given to the public after a lapse of no less than three 
hundred years ! 


Father Torquemada arrived in the New World about 
the middle of the sixteenth century, at which period he 
was still enabled to take from the lips of such of the 
Conquistadores as remained much curious information 
regarding the circumstances of their advent. His 
Monarchia Indiana was first published at Seville in 
1615, and in it he made much use of the manuscript of 
Sahagun, not then published. At the same time his 
observations upon matters pertaining to the native 
religion are often illuminating and exhaustive. 

In his Storia Antica del Messico the Abb6 Clavigero, 



who published his work in 1780, did much to disperse 
the clouds of tradition which hung over Mexican 
history and mythology. The clarity of his style and 
the exactness of his information render his work 
exceedingly useful. 

Antonio Gama, in his Description Historica y Cronologica 
de las dos Piedras, poured a flood of light on Mexican anti- 
quities. His work was published in 1832. With him 
may be said to have ceased the line of Mexican archaeo- 
logists of the older school. Others worthy of being men- 
tioned among the older writers on Mexican mythology 
(we are not here concerned with history) are Boturini, 
who, in his Idea de una Nueva Historia General de la 
America Septentrional^ gives a vivid picture of native life 
and tradition, culled from first-hand communication with 
the people ; Ixtlilxochitl, a half-breed, whose menda- 
cious works, the Relaciones and Historia Chichimeca> are 
yet valuable repositories of tradition ; Jose de Acosta, 
whose Historia Natural y Moral de las Tndias was pub- 
lished at Seville in 1580 ; and Gomara, who, in his 
Historia General de las Indias (Madrid, 1749), rested 
upon the authority of the Conquistadores. Tezozomoc's 
Chronica Mexicana y reproduced in Lord Kingsborough's 
great work, is valuable as giving unique facts regard- 
ing the Aztec mythology, as is the Teatro Mexicana of 
Vetancurt, published r at Mexico in 1697-98. 

The Worship of One God 

The ritual of this dead faith of another hemisphere 
abounds in expressions concerning the unity of the deity 
approaching very nearly to many of those we ourselves 
employ regarding God's attributes. The various classes 
of the priesthood were in the habit of addressing the 
several gods to whom they ministered as " omnipotent," 
"endless," "invisible," "the one god complete in 


perfection and unity," and " the Maker and Moulder 
of All." These appellations they applied not to one 
supreme being, but to the individual deities to whose 
service they were attached. It may be thought that 
such a practice would be fatal to the evolution of a 
single and universal god. But there is every reason to 
believe that Tezcatlipoca, the great god of the air, like 
the Hebrew Jahveh, also an air-god, was fast gaining 
precedence of all other deities, when the coming of the 
white man put an end to his chances of sovereignty. 


Tezcatlipoca (Fiery Mirror) was undoubtedly the 
Jupiter of the Nahua pantheon. He carried a mirror 
or shield, from which he took his name, and in which 
he was supposed to see reflected the actions and deeds 
of mankind. The evolution of this god from the 
status of a spirit of wind or air to that of the supreme 
deity of the Aztec people presents many points of deep 
interest to students of mythology. Originally the 
personification of the air, the source both of the breath 
of life and of the tempest, Tezcatlipoca possessed all 
the attributes of a god who presided over these 
phenomena. As the tribal god of the Tezcucans who 
had led them into the'Land of Promise, and had been 
instrumental in the defeat of both the gods and men of 
the elder race they dispossessed, Tezcatlipoca naturally 
advanced so speedily in popularity and public honour 
that it was little wonder that within a comparatively 
short space of time he came to be regarded as a god 
of fate and fortune, and as inseparably connected with 
the national destinies. Thus, from being the peculiar 
deity of a small band of Nahua immigrants, the prestige 
accruing from the rapid conquest made under his tute- 
lary direction and the speedily disseminated tales of the 



prowess of those who worshipped him seemed to render 
him at once the most popular and the best feared god 
in Anahuac, therefore the one whose cult quickly over- 
shadowed that of other and similar gods. 

Tezcatlipoca, Overthrower of the Toltecs 

We find Tezcatlipoca intimately associated with the 
legends which recount the overthrow of Tollan, the 
capital of the Toltecs. His chief adversary on the 
Toltec side is the god-king Quetzalcoatl, whose nature 
and reign we will consider later, but whom we will 
now merely regard as the enemy of Tezcatlipoca. The 
rivalry between these gods symbolises that which existed 
between the civilised Toltecs and the barbarian Nahua, 
and is well exemplified in the following myths. 

Myths of Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca 

In the days of Quetzalcoatl there was abundance of 
everything necessary for subsistence. The maize was 
plentiful, the calabashes were as thick as one's arm, and 
cotton grew in all colours without having to be dyed. 
A variety of birds of rich plumage filled the air with 
their songs, and gold, silver, and precious stones were 
abundant. In the reign of Quetzalcoatl there was peace 
and plenty for all men. 

But this blissful stale was too fortunate, too happy 
to endure. Envious of the calm enjoyment of the 
god and his people the Toltecs, three wicked " necro- 
mancers " plotted their downfall. The reference is 
of course to the gods of the invading Nahua tribes, 
the deities Huitzilopochtli,Titlacahuan or Tezcatlipoca, 
and Tlacahuepan. These laid evil enchantments upon 
the city of Tollan, and Tezcatlipoca in particular took 
the lead in these envious conspiracies. Disguised as 

an aged man with white hair, he presented himself at 


the palace of Quetzalcoatl, where he said to the pages- 
in-waiting : ,c Pray present me to your master the king 
I desire to speak with him." 

The pages advised him to retire, as Quetzalcoatl was 
indisposed and could see no one. He requested them, 
however, to tell the god that he was waiting outside. 
They did so, and procured his admittance. 

On entering the chamber of Quetzalcoatl the wily 
Tezcatlipoca simulated much sympathy with the 
suffering god-king. " How are you, my son ? ' he 
asked. " I have brought you a drug which you should 
drink, and which will put an end to the course of your 

" You are welcome, old man," replied Quetzalcoatl. 
" I have known for many days that you would come. 
I am exceedingly indisposed. The malady affects my 
entire system, and I can use neither my hands nor 

Tezcatlipoca assured him that if he partook of the 
medicine which he had brought him he would imme- 
diately experience a great improvement in health. 
Quetzalcoatl drank the potion, and at once felt much 
revived. The cunning Tezcatlipoca pressed another 
and still another cup of the potion upon him, and as it 
was nothing but pulque, the wine of the country, he 
speedily became intoxicated, and was as wax in the 
hands of his adversary. 

Tezcatlipoca and the Toltecs 

Tezcatlipoca, in pursuance of his policy inimical to 
the Toltec state, took the form of an Indian of the name 
of Toueyo (Toveyo), and bent his steps to the palace 
of Uemac, chief of the Toltecs in temporal matters. 
This worthy had a daughter so fair that she was desired 
in marriage by many of the Toltecs, but all to no 


purpose, as her father refused her hand to one and all. 
The princess, beholding the false Toueyo passing her 
father's palace, fell deeply in love with him, and so 
tumultuous was her passion that she became seriously 
ill because of her longing for him. Uemac, hearing of 
her indisposition, bent his steps to her apartments, and 
inquired of her women the cause of her illness. They 
told him that it was occasioned by the sudden passion 
which had seized her for the Indian who had recently 
come that way. Uemac at once gave orders for the 
arrest of Toueyo, and he *vas haled before the temporal 
chief of Tollan. 

" Whence come you ? " inquired Uemac of his 
prisoner, who was very scantily attired. 

" Lord, I am a stranger, and I have come to these 
parts to sell green paint," replied Tezcatlipoca. 

" Why are you dressed in this fashion ? Why do 
you not wear a cloak ? " asked the chief. 

"My lord, I follow the custom of my country," 
replied Tezcatlipoca. 

" You have inspired a passion in the breast of my 
daughter," said Uemac. " What should be done to 
you for thus disgracing me ? " 

" Slay me ; I care not," said the cunning Tezcatli- 

" Nay," replied yemac, " for if I slay you my 
daughter will perish. Go to her and say that she 
may wed you and be happy." 

Now the marriage of Toueyo to the daughter of 
Uemac aroused much discontent among the Toltecs ; 
and they murmured among themselves, and said : 
" Wherefore did Uemac give his daughter to this 
Toueyo ? " Uemac, ha/ing got wind of these murmur- 
ings, resolved to distract the attention of the Toltecs by 
making war upon the neighbouring state of Coatepec. 

The Princess sees a Strange Man before the Palace 

Gilbert James 




The Toltecs assembled armed for the fray, and having 
arrived at the country of the men of Coatepec they placed 
Toueyo in ambush with his body-servants, hoping that 
he would be slain by their adversaries. But Toueyo and 
his men killed a large number of the enemy and put 
them to flight. His triumph was celebrated by Uemac 
with much pomp. The knightly plumes were placed 
upon his head, and his body was painted with red and 
yellow — an honour reserved for those who distinguished 
themselves in battle. 

Tezcatlipoca's next step was to announce a great 
feast in Tollan, to which all the people for miles 
around were invited. Great crowds assembled, and 
danced and sang in the city to the sound of the 
drum. Tezcatlipoca sang to them and forced them to 
accompany the rhythm of his song with their feet. 
Faster and faster the people danced, until the pace 
became so furious that they were driven to madness, 
lost their footing, and tumbled pell-mell down a deep 
ravine, where they were changed into rocks. Others in 
attempting to cross a stone bridge precipitated them- 
selves into the water below, and were changed into 

On another occasion Tezcatlipoca presented himself 
as a valiant warrior named Tequiua, and invited all the 
inhabitants of Tollan and its environs to come to the 
flower-garden called Xochitla. When assembled there 
he attacked them with a hoe, and slew a great number, 
and others in panic crushed their comrades to death. 

Tezcatlipoca and Tlacahuepan on another occasion 
repaired to the market-place of Tollan, the former dis- 
playing upon the palm of his hand a small infant whom 
he caused to dance and to cut the most amusing 
capers. This infant was in reality Huitzilopochtli, the 
Nahua god of war. At this sight the Toltecs crowded 



upon one another for the purpose of getting a better 
view, and their eagerness resulted in many being 
crushed to death. So enraged were the Toltecs at this 
that upon the advice of Tlacahuepan they slew both 
Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli. When this had been 
done the bodies of the slain gods gave forth such a 
pernicious effluvia that thousands of the Toltecs died 
of the pestilence. The god Tlacahuepan then advised 
them to cast out the bodies lest worse befell them, but 
on their attempting to do so they discovered their 
weight to be so great that they could not move them. 
Hundreds wound cords round the corpses, but the 
strands broke, and those who pulled upon them fell 
and died suddenly, tumbling one upon the other, and 
suffocating those upon whom they collapsed. 

The Departure of Quetzalcoatl 

The Toltecs were so tormented by the enchantments 
of Tezcatlipoca that it was soon apparent to them that 
their fortunes were on the wane and that the end of 
their empire was at hand. Quetzalcoatl, chagrined at 
the turn things had taken, resolved to quit Tollan and 
go to the country of Tlapallan, whence he had come on 
his civilising mission to Mexico. He burned all the 
houses which he had built, and buried his treasure 
of gold and precious stones in the deep valleys between 
the mountains. He changed the cacao-trees into mez- 
quites, and he ordered all the birds of rich plumage 
and song to quit the valley of Anahuac and to follow 
him to a distance of more than a hundred leagues. On 
the road from Tollan he discovered a great tree at a point 
called Quauhtitlan. There he rested, and requested his 
pages to hand him a mirror. Regarding himself in the 
polished surface, he exclaimed, " 1 am old," and from 
that circumstance the spot was named Huehuequauhtit- 


Ian (Old Quauhtitlan). Proceeding on his way accom- 
panied by musicians who played the flute, he walked 
until fatigue arrested his steps, and he seated himself 
upon a stone, on which he left the imprint of his hands. 
This place is called Temacpalco (The Impress of the 
Hands). At Coaapan he was met by the Nahua gods, 
who were inimical to him and to the Toltecs. 

"Where do you go ?" they asked him. "Why do 
you leave your capital ? " 

"I go to Tlapallan," replied Quetzalcoatl, "whence 


" For what reason ? " persisted the enchanters. 

" My father the Sun has called me thence," replied 

"Go, then, happily," they said, "but leave us the 
secret of your art, the secret of founding in silver, of 
working in precious stones and woods, of painting, and 
of feather-working, and other matters." 

But Quetzalcoatl refused, and cast all his treasures 
into the fountain of Cozcaapa (Water of Precious 
Stones). At Cochtan he was met by another enchanter, 
who asked him whither he was bound, and on learning 
his destination proffered him a draught of wine. On 
tasting the vintage Quetzalcoatl was overcome with 
sleep. Continuing his journey in the morning, the 
god passed between a volcano and the Sierra Nevada 
(Mountain of Snow), where all the pages who accom- 
panied him died of cold. He regretted this misfortune 
exceedingly, and wept, lamenting their fate with most 
bitter tears and mournful songs. On reaching the 
summit of Mount Poyauhtecatl he slid to the base. 
Arriving at the sea-shore, he embarked upon a raft 
of serpents, and was wafted away toward the land of 

It is obvious that these legends bear some resemblance 



to those of Ixtlilxochitl which recount the fall of t u f\ 
Toitecs. They are taken from Sahagun's work, Histona 
General de Nueva EspaHa, and are included as well 
for the sake of comparison as for their own intrinsic 

Tezcatlipoca as Doomster 

Tezcatlipoca was much more than a mere personifica- 
tion of wind, and if he was regarded as a life-giver he 
had also the power of destroying existence. In fact on 
occasion he appears as an inexorable death-dealer, and 
as such was styled Nezahualpilli (The Hungry Chief) 
and Yaotzin (The Enemy). Perhaps one of the names 
by which he was best known was Telpochtli (The 
Youthful Warrior), from the fact that his reserve of 
strength, his vital force, never diminished, and that his 
youthful and boisterous vigour was apparent in the 

Tezcatlipoca was usually depicted as holding in his 
right hand a dart placed in an atlatl (spear-thrower), 
and his mirror-shield with four spare darts in his left. 
This shield is the symbol of his power as judge of 
mankind and upholder of human justice. 

The Aztecs pictured Tezcatlipoca as rioting along 
the highways in search of persons on whom to wreak 
his vengeance, as the wind of night rushes along the 
deserted roads with more seeming violence than it does 
by day. Indeed one of his names, Yoalli Ehecatl, 
signifies " Night Wind." Benches of stone, shaped 
like those made for the dignitaries of the Mexican 
towns, were distributed along the highways for his 
especial use, that on these he might rest after his 
boisterous journeyings. These seats were concealed by 
green boughs, beneath which the god was supposed to 
lurk in wait for his victims. But if one of the persons 


Tezcatlipoca, Lord of the Night Winds 
Gilbert James 




he seized overcame him in the struggle he might ask 
whatever boon he desired, secure in the promise of the 
deity that it should be granted forthwith. 

It was supposed that Tezcatlipoca had guided the 
Nahua, and especially the people of Tezcuco, from a 
more northerly clime to the valley of Mexico. But he 
was not a mere local deity of Tezcuco, his worship being 
widely celebrated throughout the country. His exalted 
position in the Mexican pantheon seems to have won 
for him especial reverence as a god of fate and fortune. 
The place he took as the head of the Nahua pantheon 
brought him many attributes which were quite foreign 
to his original character. Fear and a desire to exalt 
their tutelar deity will impel the devotees of a 
powerful god to credit him with any or every quality, 
so that there is nothing remarkable in the spectacle 
of the heaping of every possible attribute, human 
or divine, upon Tezcatlipoca when we recall the 
supreme position he occupied in Mexican mythology. 
His priestly caste far surpassed in power and in the 
breadth and activity of its propaganda the priesthoods 
of the other Mexican deities. To it is credited the 
invention of many of the usages of civilisation, and that 
it all but succeeded in making his worship universal 
is pretty clear, as has been shown. The other gods 
were worshipped for some special purpose, but the 
worship of Tezcatlipoca was regarded as compulsory, 
and to some extent as a safeguard against the destruc- 
tion of the universe, a calamity the Nahua had been led to 
believe might occur through his agency. Fie was known 
as Moneneque (The Claim er of Prayer), and in some 
of the representations of him an ear of gold was shown 
suspended from his hair, toward which small tongues 
of gold strained upward in appeal of prayer. In times 
of national danger, plague, or famine universal prayer 



wa3 made to Tezcatlipoca. The heads of the com- 
munity repaired to his teocalli (temple) accompanied 
by the people en masse, and all prayed earnestly together 
for his speedy intervention. The prayers to Tezcatli- 
poca still extant prove that the ancient Mexicans fully 
believed that he possessed the power of life and death, 
and many of them are couched in the most piteous 

The Teotleco Festival 

The supreme position occupied by Tezcatlipoca in 
the Mexican religion is well exemplified in the festival 
of the Teotleco (Coming of the Gods), which is 
fully described in Sahagun's account of the Mexican 
festivals. Another peculiarity connected with his 
worship was that he was one of the few Mexican 
deities who had any relation to the expiation of sin. 
Sin was symbolised by the Nahua as excrement, and in 
various manuscripts Tezcatlipoca is represented as a 
turkey-cock to which ordure is being offered up. 

Of the festival of the Teotleco Sahagun says : " In 
the twelfth month a festival was celebrated in honour 
of all the gods, who were said to have gone to some 
country I know not where. On the last day of the 
month a greater one was held, because the gods had 
returned. On the fifteenth day of this month the 
young boys and the servitors decked all the altars or 
oratories of the gods with boughs, as well as those 
which were in the houses, and the images which were 
set up by the wayside and at the cross-roads. This 
work was paid for in maize. Some received a basketful, 
and others only a few ears. On the eighteenth day the 
ever-youthful god Tlamatzincatl or Titlacahuan arrived. 
It was said that he marched better and arrived the first 
because he was strong and young. Food was offered 


him in his temple on that night. Every one drank, 
ate, and made merry. The old people especially 
celebrated the arrival of the god by drinking wine, 
and it was alleged that his feet were washed by these 
rejoicings. The last day of the month was marked by 
a great festival, on account of the belief that the whole 
of the gods arrived at that time. On the preceding 
night a quantity of flour was k* eaded on a carpet into 
the shape of a cheese, it being supposed that the gods 
would leave a footprint thereon as a sign of their 
return. The chief attendant watched all night, going 
to and fro to see if the impression appeared. When he 
at last saw it he called out, i The master has arrived,' 
and at once the priests of the temple began to sound 
the horns, trumpets, and other musical instruments 
used by them. Upon hearing this noise every one set 
forth to offer food in all the temples." The next day 
the aged gods were supposed to arrive, and young 
men disguised as monsters hurled victims into a huge 
sacrificial fire. 

The Toxcatl Festival 

The most remarkable festival in connection with 
Tezcatlipoca was the Toxcatl, held in the fifth month. 
On the day of this festival a youth was slain who 
for an entire year previously had been carefully in- 
structed in the role of victim. He was selected 
from among the best war captives of the year, and 
must be without spot or blemish. He assumed the 
name, garb, and attributes of Tezcatlipoca himself, and 
was regarded with awe by the entire populace, who 
imagined him to be the earthly representative of the 
deity. He rested during the day, and ventured forth 
at night only, armed with the dart and shield of the 

god, to scour the roads. This practice was, of course, 



symbolical of the wind-god's progress over the night- 
bound highways. He carried also the whistle sym- 
bolical of the deity, and made with it a noise such as 
the weird wind of night makes when it hurries through 
the streets. To his arms and legs small bells were 
attached. He was followed by a retinue of pages, and at 
intervals rested upon the stone seats which were 
placed upon the highways for the convenience of 
Tezcatlipoca. Later in the year he was mated to four 
beautiful maidens of high birth, with whom he passed 
the time in amusement of every description. He was 
entertained at the tables of the nobility as the earthly 
representative of Tezcatlipoca, and his latter days were 
one constant round of feasting and excitement. At 
last the fatal day upon which he must be sacrificed 
arrived. He took a tearful farewell of the maidens 
whom he had espoused, and was carried to the teocalli 
of sacrifice, upon the sides of which he broke the 
musical instruments with which he had beguiled the 
time of his captivity. When he reached the summit 
he was received by the high-priest, who speedily made 
him one with the god whom he represented by tearing 
his heart out on the stone of sacrifice. 

Huitzilopochtli, the Wat^God 

Huitzilopochtli occupied in the Aztec pantheon a 
place similar to that of Mars in the Roman. His 
origin is obscure, but the myth relating to it is dis- 
tinctly original in character. It recounts how, under 
the shadow of the mountain of Coatepec, near the 
Toltec city of Tollan, there dwelt a pious widow called 
Coatlicue, the mother of a tribe of Indians called Cent- 
zonuitznaua, who had a daughter called Coyolxauhqui, 
and who daily repaired to a small hill with the intention 
of offering up prayers to the gods in a penitent spirit 

The Infant War-God drives his Brethren into a Lake and slays them 

Gilbert James 70 



of piety. Whilst occupied in her devotions one day 
she was surprised by a small ball of brilliantly coloured 
feathers falling upon her from on high. She was 
pleased by the bright variety of its hues, and placed it 
in her bosom, intending to offer it up to the sun-god. 
Some time afterwards she learnt that she was to become 
the mother of another child. Her sons, hearing of 
this, rained abuse upon her, being incited to humiliate 
her in every possible way by their sister Coyolxauhqui. 

Coatlicue went about in fear and anxiety ; but the 
spirit of her unborn infant came and spoke to her 
and gave her words of encouragement, soothing her 
troubled heart. Her sons, however, were resolved to 
wipe out what they considered an insult to their race 
by the death of their mother, and took counsel with 
one another to slay her. They attired themselves in 
their war-gear, and arranged their hair after the manner 
of warriors going to battle. But one of their number, 
Quauitlicac, relented, and confessed the perfidy of his 
brothers to the still unborn Huitzilopochtli, who re- 
plied to him : " O brother, hearken attentively to what 
I have to say to you. I am fully informed of what 
is about to happen." With the intention of slaying 
their mother, the Indians went in search of her. At 
their head marched their sister, Coyolxauhqui. They 
were armed to the teeth, and carried bundles of darts 
with which they intended to kill the luckless Coatlicue. 

Quauitlicac climbed the mountain to acquaint 
Huitzilopochtli with the news that his brothers were 
approaching to kill their mother. 

"Mark well where they are at," replied the infant 
god. " To what place have they advanced ? ' 

"ToTzompantitlan," responded Quauitlicac. 

Later on Huitzilopochtli asked : "Where may they 
be now ? " 



" At Coaxalco," was the reply. 

Once more Huitzilopochtli asked to what point his 
enemies had advanced. 

" They are now at Petlac," Quauitlicac replied. 

After a little while Quauitlicac informed Huitzilo- 
pochtli that the Centzonuitznaua were at hand under 
the leadership of Coyolxauhqui. At the moment of 
the enemy's arrival Huitzilopochtli was born, flourish- 
ing a shield and spear of a blue colour. He was 
painted, his head was surmounted by a panache, and 
his left leg was covered with feathers. He shattered 
Coyolxauhqui with a flash of serpentine lightning, and 
then gave chase to the Centzonuitznaua, whom he 
pursued four times round the mountain. They did 
not attempt to defend themselves, but fled incon- 
tinently. Many perished in the waters of the adjoining 
lake, to which they had rushed in their despair. All 
were slain save a few who escaped to a place called 
Uitzlampa, where they surrendered to Huitzilopochtli 
and gave up their arms. 

The name Huitzilopochtli signifies "Humming-bird 
to the left," from the circumstance that the god wore 
the feathers of the humming-bird, or colibri, on his left 
leg. From this it has been inferred that he was a 
humming-bird totem. The explanation of Huitzilo- 
pochtli's origin is a little deeper than this, however. 
Among the American tribes, especially those of the 
northern continent, the serpent is regarded with the 
deepest veneration as the symbol of wisdom and magic. 
From these sources come success in war. The serpent 
also typifies the lightning, the symbol of the divine 
spear, the apotheosis of warlike might. Fragments of 
serpents are regarded as powerful war-physic among 
many tribes. Atatarho, a mythical wizard-king of the 
Iroquois, was clothed with living serpents as with a 


robe, and his myth throws light on one of the names 
of Huitzilopochtli's mother, Coatlantona (Robe of 
Serpents). Huitzilopochtli's image was surrounded 
by serpents, and rested on serpent-shaped supporters. 
His sceptre was a single snake, and his great drum 
was of serpent-skin. 

In American mythology the serpent is closely asso- 
ciated with the bird. Thus the name of the god 
Quetzalcoatl is translatable as " Feathered Serpent," 
and many similar cases where the conception of bird 
and serpent have been unified could be adduced. 
Huitzilopochtli is undoubtedly one of these. We may 
regard him as a god the primary conception of whom 
arose from the idea of the serpent, the symbol of 
warlike wisdom and might, the symbol of the warrior's 
dart or spear, and the humming-bird, the harbinger of 
summer, type of the season when the snake or lightning 
god has power over the crops. 

Huitzilopochtli was usually represented as wearing 
on his head a waving panache or plume of humming- 
birds' feathers. His face and limbs were striped with 
bars of blue, and in his right hand he carried four 
spears. His left hand bore his shield, on the surface of 
which were displayed five tufts of down, arranged in the 
form of a quincunx. The shield was made with reeds, 
covered with eagle's down. The spear he brandished 
was also tipped with tufts of down instead of flint. 
These weapons were placed in the hands of those who 
as captives engaged in the sacrificial fight, for in the 
Aztec mind Huitzilopochtli symbolised the warrior's 
death on the gladiatorial stone of combat. As has 
been said, Huitzilopochtli was war-god of the Aztecs, 
and was supposed to have led them to the site of 
Mexico from their original home in the north. The 
city of Mexico took its name from one of its districts, 



which was designated by a title of Huitzilopochtli's, 
Mexitli (Hare of the Aloes). 

The War'God as Fertilise* 

But Huitzilopochtli was not a war-god alone. As 
the serpent-god of lightning he had a connection with 
ttimmer, the season of lightning, and therefore had 
dominion to some extent over the crops and fruits of 
the earth. The Algonquian Indians of North America 
believed that the rattlesnake could raise ruinous storms 
or grant favourable breezes. They alluded to it also 
as the symbol of life, for the serpent has a phallic 
significance because of its similarity to the symbol of 
generation and fructification. With some American 
tribes also, notably the Pueblo Indians of Arizona, the 
serpent has a solar significance, and with tail in mouth 
symbolises the annual round of the sun. The Nahua 
believed that Huitzilopochtli could grant them fair 
weather for the fructification of their crops, and they 
placed an image of Tlaloc, the rain-god, near him, so 
that, if necessary, the war-god could compel the rain- 
maker to exert his pluvial powers or to abstain from 
the creation of floods. We must, in considering the 
nature of this deity, bear well in mind the connection 
in the Nahua consciousness between the pantheon, war, 
and the food-supply. If war was not waged annually 
the gods must go without flesh food and perish, and if 
the gods succumbed the crops would fail, and famine 
would destroy the race. So it was small wonder that 
Huitzilopochtli was one of the chief gods of Mexico. 

Huitzilopochtli's principal festival was the Toxcatl, 
celebrated immediately after the Toxcatl festival of 
Tezcatlipoca, to which it bore a strong resemblance. 
Festivals of the god were held in May and December, 
at the latter of which an image of him, moulded in 


dough kneaded with the blood of sacrificed children, 
was pierced by the presiding priest with an arrow — an 
act significant of the death of Huitzilopochtli until his 
resurrection in the next year. 

Strangely enough, when the absolute supremacy 
of Tezcatlipoca is remembered, the high-priest of 
Huitzilopochtli, the Mexicatl Teohuatzin, was con- 
sidered to be the religious head of the Mexican 
priesthood. The priests of Huitzilopochtli held office 
by right of descent, and their primate exacted absolute 
obedience from the priesthoods of all the other deities, 
being regarded as next to the monarch himself in 
power and dominion. 

Tlaloc, the Rain*God 

Tlaloc was the god of rain and moisture. In a 
country such as Mexico, where the success or failure of 
the crops depends entirely upon the plentiful nature or 
otherwise of the rainfall, he was, it will be readily 
granted, a deity of high importance. It was believed 
that he made his home in the mountains which sur- 
round the valley of Mexico, as these were the source 
of the local rainfall, and his popularity is vouched for 
by the fact that sculptured representations of him occur 
more often than those of any other of the Mexican 
deities. He is generally represented in a semi-recum- 
bent attitude, with the upper part of the body raised 
upon the elbows, and the knees half drawn up, probably 
to represent the mountainous character of the country 
whence comes the rain. He was espoused to Chal- 
chihuitlicue (Emerald Lady), who bore him a numerous 
progeny, the Tlalocs (Clouds). Many of the figures 
which represented him were carved from the green 
stone called chalchiuitl (jadeite), to typify the colour 
of water, and in some of these he was shown holding 



a serpent of gold to typify the lightning, for water- 
gods are often closely identified with the thunder, which 
hangs over the hills and accompanies heavy rains. 
Tlaloc, like his prototype, the Kiche god Hurakan, 
manifested himself in three forms, as the lightning- 
flash, the thunderbolt, and the thunder. Although his 
image faced the east, where he was supposed to have 
originated, he was worshipped as inhabiting the four 
cardinal points and every mountain-top. The colours 
of the four points of the compass, yellow, green, red, 
and blue, whence came the rain-bearing winds, entered 
into the composition of his costume, which was further 
crossed with streaks of silver, typifying the mountain 
torrents. A vase containing every description of grain 
was usually placed before his idol, an offering of the 
growth which it was hoped he would fructify. He 
dwelt in a many-watered paradise called Tlalocan (The 
Country of Tlaloc), a place of plenty and fruitfulness, 
where those who had been drowned or struck by 
lightning or had died from dropsical diseases enjoyed 
eternal bliss. Those of the common people who did 
not die such deaths went to the dark abode of Mictlan, 
the all-devouring and gloomy Lord of Death. 

In the native manuscripts Tlaloc is usually portrayed 
as having a dark complexion, a large round eye, a row 
of tusks, and over the Jips an angular blue stripe curved 
downward and rolled up at the ends. The latter 
character is supposed to have been evolved originally 
from the coils of two snakes, their mouths with long fangs 
in the upper jaw meeting in the middle of the upper 
lip. The snake, besides being symbolised by lightning in 
many American mythologies, is also symbolical of water, 
which is well typified in its sinuous movements. 

Many maidens and children were annually sacrificed 

to Tlaloc. If the children wept it was regarded as a 


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happy omen for a rainy season. The Etzalqualiztli 
(Wnen they eat Bean Food) was his chief festival, and 
was held on a day approximating to May 13, about 
which date the rainy season usually commenced. 
Another festival in his honour, the Quauitleua, com- 
menced the Mexican year on February 2. At the 
former festival the priests of Tlaloc plunged into a 
lake, imitating the sounds and movements of frogs, 
which, as denizens of water, were under the special 
protection of the god. Chalchihuitlicue, his wife, was 
often symbolised by the small image of a frog. 

Sacrifices to Tlaloc 

Human sacrifices also took place at certain points in 
the mountains where artificial ponds were consecrated 
to Tlaloc. Cemeteries were situated in their vicinity, 
and offerings to the god interred near the burial-place 
of the bodies of the victims slain in his service. His 
statue was placed on the highest mountain of Tezcuco, 
and an old writer mentions that five or six young 
children were annually offered to the god at various 
points, their hearts torn out, and their remains interred. 
The mountains Popocatepetl and Teocuinani were re- 
garded as his special high places, and on the heights 
of the latter was built his temple, in which stood his 
image carved in green stone. 

The Nahua believed that the constant production of 
food and rain induced a condition of senility in those 
deities whose duty it was to provide them. This they 
attempted to stave off, fearing that if they failed in so 
doing the gods would perish. They afforded them, 
accordingly, a period of rest and recuperation, and once 
in eight years a festival called the Atamalqualiztli (Fast 
of Porridge-balls and Water) was held, during which 
every one in the Nahua community returned for the time 



being to the conditions of savage life. Dressed in cos- 
tumes representing all forms of animal and bird life, 
and mimicking the sounds made by the various creatures 
they typified, the people danced round the teocalli of 
Tlaloc for the purpose of diverting and entertaining him 
after his labours in producing the fertilising rains of 
the past eight years. A lake was filled with water-snakes 
and frogs, and into this the people plunged, catching 
the reptiles in their mouths and devouring them alive. 
The only grain food which might be partaken during 
this season of rest was thin water-porridge of maize. 

Should one of the more prosperous peasants or 
yeomen deem a rainfall necessary to the growth of his 
crops, or should he fear a drought, he sought out one 
of the professional makers of dough or paste idols, whom 
he desired to mould one of Tlaloc. To this image 
offerings of maize-porridge and pulque were made. 
Throughout the night the farmer and his neighbours 
danced, shrieking and howling round the figure for 
the purpose of rousing Tlaloc from his drought- 
bringing slumbers. Next day was spent in quaffing 
huge libations of pulque, and in much-needed rest 
from the exertions of the previous night. 

In Tlaloc it is easy to trace resemblances to a mytho- 
logical conception widely prevalent among the indigenous 
American peoples. He is similar to such deities as the 
Hurakan of the Richer of Guatemala, the Pillan of the 
aborigines of Chile, and Con, the thunder-god of the 
Collao of Peru. Only his thunderous powers are not 
so apparent as his rain-making abilities, and in this he 
differs somewhat from the gods alluded to. 


It is highly probable that Quetzalcoatl was a deity of 
the pre-Nahua people of Mexico. He was regarded by 


tke Aztec race as a god of somewhat alien character, 

and had but a limited following in Mexico, the city of 

Huitzilopochtli. In Cholula, however, and others of 

the older towns his worship flourished exceedingly. He 

was regarded as " The Father of the Toltecs," and, 

legend says, was the seventh and youngest son of the 

Toltec Abraham, Iztacmixcohuatl. Quetzalcoatl (whose 

name means " Feathered Serpent " or "Feathered Staff") 

became, at a relatively early period, ruler of Tollan, 

and by his enlightened sway and his encouragement of 

the liberal arts did much to further the advancement 

of his people. His reign had lasted for a period 

sufficient to permit of his placing the cultivated arts 

upon a satisfactory basis when the country was visited 

by the cunning magicians Tezcatlipoca and Coyotl inaual, 

god of the Amantecas. Disentangled from its terms 

of myth, this statement may be taken to imply that 

bands of invading Nahua first began to appear within 

the Toltec territories. Tezcatlipoca, descending from 

the sky in the shape of a spider by way of a fine web, 

proffered him a draught of pulque^ which so intoxicated 

him that the curse of lust descended upon him, and 

he forgot his chastity with Quetzalpetlatl. The doom 

pronounced upon him was the hard one of banishment, 

and he was compelled to forsake Anahuac. His exile 

wrought peculiar changes upon the face of the country. 

He secreted his treasures of gold and silver, burned 

his palaces, transformed the cacao-trees into mezquites, 

and banished all the birds from the neighbourhood of 

Tollan. The magicians, nonplussed at these unexpected 

happenings, begged him to return, but he refused on 

the ground that the sun required his presence. He 

proceeded to Tabasco, the fabled land of Tlapallan, and, 

embarking upon a raft made of serpents, floated away 

to the east. A slightly different version of this myth 



na$ already been given. Other accounts state that the 
king cast himself upon a funeral pyre and was consumed, 
and that the ashes arising from the conflagration flew 
upward, and were changed into birds of brilliant plumage. 
His heart also soared into the sky, and became the morn- 
ing star. The Mexicans averred that Quetzalcoatl died 
when the star became visible, and thus they bestowed 
upon him the title " Lord of the Dawn." They further 
said that when he died he was invisible for four days, 
and that for eight days he wandered in the underworld, 
after which time the morning star appeared, when he 
achieved resurrection, and ascended his throne as a god. 
It is the contention of some authorities that the 
myth of Quetzalcoatl points to his status as god of 
the sun. That luminary, they say, begins his diurnal 
journey in the east, whence Quetzalcoatl returned as 
to his native home. It will be recalled that Monte- 
zuma and his subjects imagined that Cortes was no 
other than Quetzalcoatl, returned to his dominions, as 
an old prophecy declared he would do. But that he 
stood for the sun itself is highly improbable, as will be 
shown. First of all, however, it will be well to pay 
some attention to other theories concerning his origin. 
[ Perhaps the most important of these is that which 
regards Quetzalcoatl as a god of the air. He is con- 
nected, say some, with the cardinal points, and wears 
the insignia of the cross, which symbolises Jthem.\ Dr. 
Seler says of him : u He has a protruding, trumpet-like 
mouth, for the wind-god blows. . . . His figure sug- 
gests whirls and circles. Hence his temples were built 
in circular form. . . . The head of the wind-god stands 
for the second of the twenty day signs, which was called 
Ehecatl (Wind)." The same authority, however, in 
his essay on Mexican chronology, gives to Quetzal- 
coatl a dual nature, " the dual nature which seems to 


. J AMt ■' 

The Aged Quetzalcoatl leaves Mexico on a Raft of Serpents 

Gilbert James 




belong to the wind-god Quetzalcoatl, who now appears 
simply a wind-god, and again seems to show the true 
characters of the old god of fire and light." l 

Dr. Brinton perceived in Quetzalcoatl a similar dual 
nature. " He is both lord of the eastern light and 
of the winds," he writes {Myths of the New World^ 
p. 2 1 4). uili,ike all the dawn heroes, he too was 
represented as of white complexion, clothed in long, 
white robes, and, as many of the Aztec gods, with a 
full and flowing bea rd. ) . . . He had been overcome 
by Tezcatlipoca, the wind or spirit of night, who had 
descended from heaven by a spider's web, and presented 
his rival with a draught supposed to confer immortality, 
but in fact producing an intolerable longing for home. 
For the wind and the light both depart when the 
gloaming draws near, or when the clouds spread their 
dark and shadowy webs along the mountains, and pour 
the vivifying rain upon the fields." 

The theory which derives Quetzalcoatl from a il cul- 
ture-hero ' ' who once actually existed is scarcely recon- 
cilable with probability. It is more than likely that, as 
in the case of other mythical paladins, the legend of a 
mighty hero arose from the somewhat weakened idea 
of a great deity. Some of the early Spanish mis- 
sionaries professed to see in Quetzalcoatl the Apostle 
St. Thomas, who had journeyed to America to effect 
its conversion ! 

The Man of the Sun 

A more probable explanation of the origin of Quetzal- 
coatl and a more likely elucidation of his nature is that 
which would regard him as the Man of the Sun, who 
has quitted his abode for a season for the purpose 
of inculcating in mankind those arts which represent 

1 Bulletin 28 of the U.S. Bureau of Ethnology. 

r 81 


the first steps in civilisation, who fulfils his mission, 
and who, at a late period, is displaced by the deities 
of an invading race. Quetzalcoatl was represented as 
a traveller with staff in hand, and this is proof of his 
solar character, as is the statement that under his rule 
the fruits of the earth flourished more abundantly than 
at any subsequent period. The abundance of gold 
said to have been accumulated in his reign assists the 
theory, the precious metal being invariably associated 
with the sun by most barbarous peoples. In the native 
pinturas it is noticeable that the solar disc and semi- 
disc are almost invariably found in connection with the 
feathered serpent as the symbolical attributes of Quetzal- 
coatl. The Hopi Indians of Mexico at the present 
day symbolise the sun as a serpent, tail in mouth, and 
the ancient Mexicans introduced the solar disc in con- 
nection with small images of Quetzalcoatl, which they 
attached to the head-dress. In still other examples 
Quetzalcoatl is pictured as if emerging or stepping from 
the luminary, which is represented as his dwelling-place. 
•^Several tribes tributary to the Aztecs were in the \ 
/habit of imploring Quetzalcoatl in prayer to return andi 
I free them from the intolerable bondage of the con3 
Ujueror. Notable among them were the Totonacs, who 
passionately believed that the sun, their father, would 
send a god who woujd free them from the Aztec yoke. 
On the coming of the Spaniards the European con- 
querors were hailed as the servants of Quetzalcoatl, 
thus in the eyes of the natives fulfilling the tradition 
that he would return. 

Various Forms of Quetzalcoatl 

Various conceptions of Quetzalcoatl are noticeable 

in the mythology of the territories which extended from 

the north of Mexico to the marshes of Nicaragua. In 


Guatemala the Inches recognised him as Gucumatz, 
and in Yucatan proper he was worshipped as Kukulcan, 
both of which names are but literal translations of his 
Mexican title of "Feathered Serpent" into Kiche and 
Mayan. That the three deities are one and the same 
there can be no shadow of doubt. Several authorities 
have seen in Kukulcan a " serpent-and-rain god." He 
can only be such in so far as he is a solar god also. 
The cult of the feathered snake in Yucatan was unques- 
tionably a branch of sun-worship. In tropical latitudes 
the sun draws the clouds round him at noon. The rain 
falls from the clouds accompanied by thunder and 
lightning — the symbols of the divine serpent. There- 
fore the manifestations of the heavenly serpent were 
directly associated with the sun, and no statement that 
Kukulcan is a mere serpen t-and-water god satisfactorily 
elucidates his characteristics. 

Quetzalcoatl's Northern Origin 

It is by no means improbable that Quetzalcoatl was 
of northern origin, and that on his adoption by southern 
peoples and tribes dwelling in tropical countries his 
characteristics were gradually and unconsciously altered 
in order to meet the exigencies of his environment. 
The mythology of the Indians of British Columbia, 
whence in all likelihood the Nahua originally came, is 
possessed of a central figure bearing a strong resem- 
blance to Quetzalcoatl. Thus the Thlingit tribe wor- 
ship Yetl ; theQuaquiutl Indians, Kanikilak; the Salish 
people of the coast, KumsnOotl, Quaaqua, or Slaalekarru 
It is noticeable that these divine beings are worshipped 
as the Man of the Sun, and totally apart from the 
luminary himself, as was Quetzalcoatl in Mexico. The 
Quaquiutl believe that before his settlement among 
them for the purpose of inculcating in the tribe the arts 



of life, the sun descended as a bird, and assumed a 
human shape. Kanikilak is his son, who, as his emis- 
sary, spreads the arts of civilisation over the world. 
So the Mexicans believed that Quetzalcoatl descended 
first of all in the form of a bird, and was ensnared 
in the fowler's net of the Toltec hero Hueymatzin. 

The titles bestowed upon Quetzalcoatl by the Nahua 
show that in his solar significance he was god of the 
vault of the heavens, as well as merely son of the sun. 
He was alluded to as Ehecatl (The Air), Yolcuat (The 
Rattlesnake), Tohil (The Rumbler), Nanihehecatl (Lord 
of the Four Winds), Tlauizcalpantecutli (Lord of the 
Light of the Dawn). The whole heavenly vault was 
his, together with all its phenomena. This would seem 
to be in direct opposition to the theory that Tezcatlipoca 
was the supreme god of the Mexicans. But it must be 
borne in mind that Tezcatlipoca was the god of a later 
age, and of a fresh body of Nahua immigrants, and as 
such inimical to Quetzalcoatl, who was probably in a 
similar state of opposition to Itzamna, a Maya deity of 

The Worship of Quetzalcoatl 

The worship of Quetzalcoatl was in some degree 
antipathetic to that of the other Mexican deities, and 
his priests were a separate caste. Although human 
sacrifice was by no means so prevalent among his 
devotees, it is a mistake to aver, as some authorities 
have done, that it did not exist in connection with his 
worship. A more acceptable sacrifice to Quetzalcoatl 
appears to have been the blood of the celebrant or 
worshipper, shed by himself. When we come to con- 
sider the mythology of the Zapotecs, a people whose 
customs and beliefs appear to have formed a species of 
link between the Mexican and Mayan civilisations, we 















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shall find that their high-priests occasionally enacted the 
legend of Quetzalcoatl in their own persons, and that 
their worship, which appears to have been based upon 
that of Quetzalcoatl, had as one of its most pronounced 
characteristics the shedding of blood. The celebrant or 
devotee drew blood from the vessels lying under the 
tongue or behind the ear by drawing across those 
tender parts a cord made from the thorn-covered fibres 
of the agave. The blood was smeared over the mouths 
of the idols. In this practice we can perceive an act 
analogous to the sacrificial substitution of the part for 
the whole, as obtaining in early Palestine and many 
other countries — a certain sign that tribal or racial 
opinion has contracted a disgust for human sacrifice, 
and has sought to evade the anger of the gods by 
yielding to them a portion of the blood of each 
worshipper, instead or sacrificing the life of one for 
the general weal. 

The Maize^Gods of Mexico 

A special group of deities called Centeotl presided 
over the agriculture of Mexico, each of whom per- 
sonified one or other of the various aspects of the 
maize-plant. The chief goddess of maize, however, 
was Chicomecohuatl (Seven-serpent), her name being 
an allusion to the fertilising power of water, which 
element the Mexicans symbolised by the serpent. As 
Xilonen she typified the xt/ote> or green ear of the 
maize. But it is probable that Chicomecohuatl was the 
creation of an older race, and that the Nahua new-comers 
adopted or brought with them another growth-spirit, 
the "Earth-mother," Teteoinnan (Mother of the Gods), 
or Tocitzin (Our Grandmother). This goddess had a son, 
Centeotl, a male maize-spirit. Sometimes the mother 
was also known as Centeotl, the generic name for the 



entire group, and this fact has led to some confusion 
in the minds of Americanists. But this does not mean 
that Chicomecohuatl was by any means neglected. 
Her spring festival, held on April 5, was known as 
Hueytozoztli (The Great Watch), and was accompanied 
by a general fast, when the dwellings of the Mexicans 
were decorated with bulrushes which had been sprinkled 
with blood drawn from the extremities of the inmates. 
The statues of the little tepitoton (household gods) 
were also decorated. The worshippers then proceeded 
to the maize-fields, where they pulled the tender stalks 
of the growing maize, and, having decorated them with 
flowers, placed them in the calpulli (the common house 
of the village). A mock combat then took place before 
the altar of Chicomecohuatl. The girls of the village 
presented the goddess with bundles of maize of the 
previous season's harvesting, later restoring them to 
the granaries in order that they might be utilised for 
seed for the coming year. Chicomecohuatl was always 
represented among the household deities of the 
Mexicans, and on the occasion of her festival the family 
placed before the image a basket of provisions sur- 
mounted by a cooked frog, bearing on its back a piece 
of cornstalk stuffed with pounded maize and vegetables. 
This frog was symbolic of Chalchihuitlicue, wife of 
Tlaloc, the rain-god, who assisted Chicomecohuatl in 
providing a bountifulharvest. In order that the soil 
might further benefit, a frog, the symbol of water, was 
sacrificed, so that its vitality should recuperate that of 
the weary and much-burdened earth. 

The Sacrifice of the Dancer 

A more important festival of Chicomecohuatl, how- 
ever, was the Xalaquia, which lasted from June 28 to 

July recommencing when the maize plant had attained 



its full growth. The women of the pueblo (village) 
wore their hair unbound, and shook and tossed it so 
that by sympathetic magic the maize might take the 
hint and grow correspondingly long. Chian pinolli 
was consumed in immense quantities, and maize- 
porridge was eaten. Hilarious dances were nightly 
performed in the teopan (temple), the central figure 
in which was the Xalaquia, a female captive or slave, 
with face painted red and yellow to represent the 
colours of the maize- plant. She had previously under- 
gone a long course of training in the dancing-school, 
and now, all unaware of the horrible fate awaiting 
her, she danced and pirouetted gaily among the rest. 
Throughout the duration of the festival she danced, 
and on its expiring night she was accompanied in the 
dance by the women of the community, who circled 
round her, chanting the deeds of Chicomecohuatl. 
When daybreak appeared the company was joined by 
the chiefs and headmen, who, along with the exhausted 
and half-fainting victim, danced the solemn death-dance. 
The entire community then approached the teocalli 
(pyramid of sacrifice), and, its summit reached, the victim 
was stripped to a nude condition, the priest plunged a 
knife of flint into her bosom, and, tearing out the still pal- 
pitating heart, offered it up to Chicomecohuatl. In this 
manner the venerable goddess, weary with the labours 
of inducing growth in the maize-plant, was supposed 
to be revivified and refreshed. Hence the name 
Xalaquia, which signifies "She who is clothed with 
the Sand." Until the death of the victim it was not 
lawful to partake of the new corn. 

The general appearance of Chicomecohuatl was none 
too pleasing. Her image rests in the National Museum 
in Mexico, and is girdled with snakes. On the under- 
side the symbolic frog is carved. The Americanists 



of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were 
unequal to the task of elucidating the origin of the 
figure, which they designated Teoyaominqui. The 
first to point out the. error was Payne, in his History 
of the New World called America^ vol. i. p. 424. The 
passage in which he announces his discovery is of such 
real interest that it is worth transcribing fully. 

An Antiquarian MareVNest 

" All the great idols of Mexico were thought to 
have been destroyed until this was disinterred among 
other relics in the course of making new drains in the 
Plaza Mayor of Mexico in August 1790. The dis- 
covery produced an immense sensation. The idol was 
dragged to the court of the University, and there set 
up ; the Indians began to worship it and deck it with 
flowers ; the antiquaries, with about the same degree 
of intelligence, to speculate about it. What most 
puzzled them was that the face and some other parts 
of the goddess are found in duplicate at the back or 
the figure ; hence they concluded it to represent two 
gods in one, the principal of whom they further con- 
cluded to be a female, the other, indicated by the back, 
a male. The standard author on Mexican antiquities 
at that time was the Italian dilettante Boturini, of 
whom it may be said that he is better, but not much 
better, than nothing atall. From page 27 of his work 
the antiquaries learned that Huitzilopochtli was accom- 
panied by the goddess Teoyaominqui, who was charged 
with collecting the souls of those slain in war and 
sacrifice. This was enough. The figure was at once 
named Teoyaominqui or Huitzilopochtli (The One plus 
the Other), and has been so called ever since. The 
antiquaries next elevated this imaginary goddess to 

the rank of the war-god's wife. 'A soldier,' says 

The so-called Teoyaominqui 
In the National Museum, Mexico 

Photo C. B. Waite, Mexico 




Bardolph, c is better accommodated than with a wife ' : 
a fortiori^ so is a war-god. Besides, as Torquemada 
(vol. ii. p. 47) says with perfect truth, the Mexicans 
did not think so grossly of the divinity as to have 
married gods or goddesses at all. The figure is 
undoubtedly a female. It has no vestige of any 
weapon about it, nor has it any limbs. It differs in 
every particular from the war-god Huitzilopochtli, 
every detail of which is perfectly well known. There 
never was any goddess called Teoyaominqui. This 
may be plausibly inferred from the fact that such a 
goddess is unknown not merely to Sahagun, Torque- 
mada, Acosta, Tezozomoc, Duran, and Clavigero, but 
to all other writers except Boturini. The blunder of 
the last-named writer is easily explained. Antonio 
Leon y Gama, a Mexican astronomer, wrote an account 
of the discoveries of 1790, in which, evidently puzzled 
by the name of Teoyaominqui, he quotes a manuscript 
in Mexican, said to have been written by an Indian of 
Tezcuco, who was born in 1528, to the effect that 
Teoyaotlatohua and Teoyaominqui were spirits who 
presided over the fifteenth of the twenty signs of the 
fortune-tellers' calendar, and that those born in this 
sign would be brave warriors, but would soon die. 
(As the fifteenth sign was quauhtli^ this is likely 
enough.) When their hour had come the former spirit 
scented them out, the latter killed them. The rubbish 
printed about Huitzilopochtli, Teoyaominqui, and 
Mictlantecutli in connection with this statue would fill a 
respectable volume. The reason why the features were 
duplicated is obvious. The figure was carried in the 
midst of a large crowd. Probably it was considered to 
be an evil omen if the idol turned away its face from 
its worshippers ; this the duplicate obviated. So when 

the dance was performed round the figure (ef. Janus). 

* 9 


This duplication of the features, a characteristic of the 
very oldest gods, appears to be indicated when the 
numeral ome (two) is prefixed to the title of the deity. 
Thus the two ancestors and preservers of the race were 
called Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl (two-chief, two- 
woman), ancient Toltec gods, who at the conquest 
become less prominent in the theology of Mexico, and 
who are best represented in that of the Mexican colony 
of Nicaragua." 

The Offering to Centeotl 

During her last hours the victim sacrificed at the 
Xalaquia wore a ritual dress made from the fibres of 
the aloe, and with this garment the maize-god Centeotl 
was clothed. Robed in this he temporarily represented 
the earth-goddess, so that he might receive her sacri- 
fice* The blood of victims was offered up to him in a 
vessel decorated with that brilliant and artistic feather- 
work which excited such admiration in the breasts of 
the connoisseurs and aesthetes of the Europe of the 
sixteenth century. Upon partaking of this blood- 
offering the deity emitted a groan so intense and 
terrifying that it has been left on record that such 
Spaniards as were present became panic-stricken. This 
ceremony was followed by another, the niti$apoloa 
(tasting of the soil), which consisted in raising a little 
earth on one finger to ( the mouth and eating it. 

As has been said, Centeotl the son has been con- 
founded with Centeotl the mother, who is in reality 
the earth-mother Teteoinnan. Each of these deities 
had a teopan (temple) of his or her own, but they 
were closely allied as parent and child. But of the 
two, Centeotl the son was the more important. On the 
death of the sacrificed victim her skin was conveyed to 

the temple of Centeotl the son, and worn there in the 






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succeeding ritual by the officiating priests. This grue- 
some dress is frequently depicted in the Aztec pinturas^ 
where the skin of the hands, and in some instances the 
feet, of the victims can be seen dangling from the wrists 
and ankles of the priest. 

Importance of the Food-Gods 

To the Mexicans the deities of most importance 
to the community as a whole were undoubtedly 
the food -gods. In their emergence from the hunting 
to the agricultural state of life, when they began to 
exist almost solely upon the fruits of the earth, the 
Mexicans were quick to recognise that the old deities 
of the chase, such as Mixcoatl, could not now 
avail them or succour them in the same manner as 
the guardians of the crops and fertilisers of the soil. 
Gradually we see these gods, then, advance in power 
and influence until at the time of the Spanish invasion 
we find them paramount. Even the terrible war-god 
himself had an agricultural significance, as we have 
pointed out. A distinct bargain with the food-gods 
can be clearly traced, and is none the less obvious 
because it was never written or codified. The cove- 
nant was as binding to the native mind as any made 
betwixt god and man in ancient Palestine, and in- 
cluded mutual assistance as well as provision for mere 
alimentary supply. In no mythology is the under- 
standing between god and man so clearly defined as 
in the Nahuan, and in none is its operation better 


Xipe (The Flayed) was widely worshipped through- 
out Mexico, and is usually depicted in the pinturas as 
being attired in a flayed human skin. At his special 



festival, the "Man-flaying," the skins were removed 
from the victims and worn by the devotees of the 
god for the succeeding twenty days. He is usually 
represented as of a red colour. In the later days of the 
Aztec monarchy the kings and leaders of Mexico 
assumed the dress or classical garments of Xipe. 
This dress consisted of a crown made of feathers 
of the roseate spoonbill, the gilt timbrel, the jacket 
of spoonbill feathers, and an apron of green 
feathers lapping over one another in a tile-like pattern. 
In the Cozcatzin Codex we see a picture of King 
Axayacatl dressed as Xipe in a feather skirt, and 
having a tiger-skin scabbard to his sword. The hands 
of a flayed human skin also dangle over the monarch's 
wrists, and the feet fall over his feet like gaiters. 

Xipe's shield is a round target covered with the 
rose-coloured feathers of the spoonbill, with concentric 
circles of a darker hue on the surface. There are 
examples of it divided into an upper and lower part, 
the former showing an emerald on a blue field, and the 
latter a tiger-skin design. Xipe was imagined as pos- 
sessing three forms, the first that of the roseate spoon- 
bill, the second that of the blue cotinga, and the last that 
of a tiger, the three shapes perhaps corresponding to the 
regions of heaven, earth, and hell, or to the three 
elements, fire, earth, and water. The deities of many 
North American Indian tribes show similar variations 
in form and colour, which are supposed to follow 
as the divinity changes his dwelling to north, south, 
east, or west. But Xipe is seldom depicted in the 
pinturas in any other form but that of the red god, 
the form in which the Mexicans adopted him from 
the Yopi tribe of the Pacific slope. He is the god of 
human sacrifice par excellence ^ and may be regarded as a 
Yopi equivalent of Tezcatlipoca. 


Nanahuatl, or Nanauatz in 

Nanahuatl (Poor Leper) presided over skin diseases, 
such as leprosy. It was thought that persons afflicted 
with these complaints were set apart by the moon for his 
service. In the Nahua tongue the words for " leprous ' 
and " eczematous " also mean " divine." The myth of 
Nanahuatl tells how before the sun was created humanity 
dwelt in sable and horrid gloom. Only a human sacrifice 
could hasten the appearance of the luminary. Metztli 
(The Moon) led forth Nanahuatl as a sacrifice, and he was 
cast upon a funeral pyre, in the flames of which he was 
consumed. Metztli also cast herself upon the mass of 
flame, and with her death the sun rose above the horizon. 
There can be no doubt that the myth refers to the con- 
suming of the starry or spotted night, and incidentally 
to the nightly death of the moon at the flaming hour 
of dawn. 


Xolotl is of southern, possibly Zapotec, origin. 
He represents either fire rushing down from the heavens 
or light flaming upward. It is noticeable that in the 
tinturas the picture of the setting sun being devoured 
by the earth is nearly always placed opposite his image. 
He is probably identical with Nanahuatl, and appears as 
the representative of human sacrifice. He has also 
affinities with Xipe. On the whole Xolotl may be best 
described as a sun-god of the more southerly tribes. 
His head (guaxolotl) was one of the most famous 
devices for warriors* use, as sacrifice among the Nahua 
was, as we have seen, closely associated with warfare. 

Xolotl was a mythical figure quite foreign to the 
peoples of Anahuac or Mexico, who regarded him as 
something strange and monstrous. He is alluded to as 
the " God of Monstrosities," and, thinks Dr. Seler, the 



word <c monstrosity" may suitably translate his name. 
He is depicted with empty eye-sockets, which circum- 
stance is explained by the myth that when the gods 
determined to sacrifice themselves in order to give life 
and strength to the newly created sun, Xolotl withdrew, 
and wept so much that his eyes fell out of their sockets. 
This was the Mexican explanation of a Zapotec attribute. 
Xolotl was originally the "Lightning Beast " of the Maya 


or some other southern folk, and was represented by 
them as a dog, since that animal appeared to them to be 
the creature which he most resembled. But he was by 
no means a " natural " dog, hence their conception of 
him as unnatural. Dr. Seler is inclined to identify him 
with the tapir, and indeed Sahagun speaks of a strange 
animal-being, tlaca-xolotl y which has " a large snout, 
large teeth, hoofs like an ox, a thick hide, and reddish 
hair " — -not a bad description of the tapir of Central 
America. Of course to the Mexicans the god Xolotl 
was no longer an animal, although he had evolved from 
one, and was imagined by them to have the form 
shown in the accompanying illustration. 


The Fit* cGod 

This deity was known in Mexico under various names, 
notably Tata (Our Father), Huehueteotl (Oldest of 
Gods), and Xiuhtecutli (Lord of the Year). He was 
represented as of the colour of fire, with a black face, a 
headdress of green feathers, and bearing on his back 
a yellow serpent, to typify the serpentine nature of 
fire. He also bore a mirror of gold to show his con- 
nection with the sun, from which all heat emanates. 
On rising in the morning all Mexican families made 
Xiuhtecutli an offering of a piece of bread and a drink. 
He was thus not only, like Vulcan, the god of thunder- 
bolts and conflagrations, but also the milder deity of 
the domestic hearth. Once a year the fire in every 
Mexican house was extinguished, and rekindled by 
friction before the idol of Xiuhtecutli. When a 
Mexican baby was born it passed through a baptism of 
fire on the fourth day, up to which time a fire, lighted 
at the time of its birth, was kept burning in order to 
nourish its existence. 


Mictlantecutli (Lord of Hades) was God of the Dead 
and of the grim and shadowy realm to which the 
souls of men repair after their mortal sojourn. He is 
represented in the pinturas as a grisly monster with 
capacious mouth, into which fall the spirits of the dead. 
His terrible abode was sometimes alluded to as Tlalxicco 
(Navel of the Earth), but the Mexicans in general 
seem to have thought that it was situated in the far 
north, which they regarded as a place of famine, desola- 
tion, and death. Here those who by the circumstances 
of their demise were unfitted to enter the paradise of 
Tlaloc — namely, those who had not been drowned or 
had not died a warrior's death, or, in the case of women, 



had not died in childbed — passed a dreary and mean- 
ingless existence. Mictlan was surrounded by a species 
of demons called tzitzimimes y and had a spouse, Micte- 
caciuatl. When we come to discuss the analogous 
deity of the Maya we shall see that in all probability 
Mictlan was represented by the bat, the animal typical 
of the underworld. In a preceding paragraph dealing 
with the funerary customs we have described the journey 
of the soul to the abode of Mictlan, and the ordeals 
through which the spirit of the defunct had to pass ere 
entering his realm (see p. 37). 

Worship of the Planet Venus 

The Mexicans designated the planet Venus Citlalpol 
(The Great Star) and Tlauizcalpantecutli (Lord of 
the Dawn). It seems to have been the only star wor- 
shipped by them, and was regarded with considerable 
veneration. Upon its rising they stopped up the 
chimneys of their houses, so that no harm of any 
kind might enter with its light. A column called 
Ilhuicatlan, meaning " In the Sky," stood in the court 
of the great temple of Mexico, and upon this a symbol 
of the planet was painted. On its reappearance during 
its usual circuit, captives were taken before this repre- 
sentation and sacrificed to it. It will be remembered 
that the myth of Quetzalcoatl states that the heart 
of that deity flew upward from the funeral pyre on 
which he was consumed and became the planet Venus. 
It is not easy to say whether or not this myth is 
anterior to the adoption of the worship of the planet by 
the Nahua, for it may be a tale of pre- or post-Nahuan 
growth. In the tonalamatl Tlauizcalpantecutli is repre- 
sented as lord of the ninth division of thirteen days, 
beginning with Ce Coatl (the sign of " One Serpent "). 

In several of the pin turas he is represented as having a 


white body with long red stripes, while round his eyes 
is a deep black painting like a domino mask, bordered 
with small white circles. His lips are a bright ver- 
milion. The red stripes are probably introduced to 
accentuate the whiteness of his body, which is under- 
stood to symbolise the peculiar half-light which ema- 
nates from the planet. The black paint on the 
face, surrounding the eye, typifies the dark sky of 
night. In Mexican and Central American symbolism 
the eye often represents light, and here, surrounded 
by blackness as it is, it is perhaps almost hieroglyphic. 
As the star of evening, Tlauizcalpantecutli is some- 
times shown with the face of a skull, to signify his 
descent into the underworld, whither he follows the 
sun. That the Mexicans and Maya carefully and accu- 
rately observed his periods of revolution is witnessed 
by the pinluras. 


The sun was regarded by the Nahua, and indeed 
by all the Mexican and Central American peoples, as 
the supreme deity, or rather the principal source of 
subsistence and life. He was always alluded to as 
the teotl y the god, and his worship formed as it were a 
background to that of all the other gods. His Mexican 
name, Ipalnemohuani (He by whom Men Live) shows 
that the Mexicans regarded him as the primal source 
of being, and the heart, the symbol of life, was looked 
upon as his special sacrifice. Those who rose at sun- 
rise to prepare food for the day held up to him on his 
appearance the hearts of animals they had slain for 
cooking, and even the hearts of the victims to Tezcat- 
lipoca and Huitzilopochtli were first held up to the 
sun, as if he had a primary right to the sacrifice, before 
being cast into the bowl of copal which lay at the feet 

• 97 


of the idol. It was supposed that the luminary rejoiced 
in offerings of blood, and that it constituted the only 
food which would render him sufficiently vigorous to 
undertake his daily journey through the heavens. He 
is often depicted in the pinturas as licking up the gore 
of the sacrificial victims with his long tongue-like rays. 
The sun must fare well if he was to continue to give 
life, light, and heat to mankind. 

The Mexicans, as we have already seen, believed that 
the luminary they knew had been preceded by others, 
each of which had been quenched by some awful 
cataclysm of nature. Eternity had, in fact, been broken 
up into epochs, marked by the destruction of succes- 
sive suns. In the period preceding that in which 
they lived, a mighty deluge had deprived the sun of 
life, and some such catastrophe was apprehended at 
the end of every " sheaf" of fifty-two years. The old 
suns were dead, and the current sun was no more 
immortal than they. At the end of one of the " sheaves V 
he too would succumb. 

Sustaining the Sun 

It was therefore necessary to sustain the sun by the 
daily food of human sacrifice, for by a tithe of human life 
alone would he be satisfied. Naturally a people hold- 
ing such a belief would look elsewhere than within their 
own borders for the material wherewith to placate their 
deity. This could be most suitably found among the 
inhabitants of a neighbouring state. It thus became 
the business of the warrior class in the Aztec state to 
furnish forth the altars of the gods with human victims. 
The most suitable district of supply was the pueblo of 
Tlaxcallan, or Tlascala, the people of which were of 
cognate origin to the Aztecs. The communities had, 

although related, been separated for so many genera- 


























r— i- 























tions that they had begun to regard each other as 
traditional enemies, and on a given day in the year 
their forces met at an appointed spot for the purpose 
of engaging in a strife which should furnish one side 
or the other with a sufficiency of victims for the pur- 
pose of sacrifice. The warrior who captured the largest 
number of opponents alive was regarded as the champion 
of the day, and was awarded the chief honours of the 
combat. The sun was therefore the god of warriors, 
as he would give them victory in battle in order 
that they might supply him with food. The rites of 
this military worship of the luminary were held in 
the Quauhquauhtinchan (House of the Eagles), an 
armoury set apart for the regiment of that name. On 
March 17 and December 1 and 2, at the ceremonies 
known as Nauhollin (The Four Motions — alluding to 
the quivering appearance of the sun's rays), the warriors 
gathered in this hall for the purpose of despatching a 
messenger to their lord the sun. High up on the wall 
of the principal court was a great symbolic representation 
of the orb, painted upon a brightly coloured cotton hang- 
ing. Before this copal and other tragrant gums and spices 
were burned four times a day. The victim, a war-captive, 
was placed at the foot of a long staircase leading up to 
the Quauhxicalli (Cup of the Eagles), the name of 
the stone on which he was to be sacrificed. He was 
clothed in red striped with white and wore white plumes 
in his hair — colours symbolical of the sun — while he 
bore a staff decorated with feathers and a shield covered 
with tufts of cotton. He also carried a bundle of eagle's 
feathers and some paint on his shoulders, to enable the 
sun, to whom he was the emissary, to paint his face. 
He was then addressed by the officiating priest in the 
following terms : " Sir, we pray you go to our god the 
sun, and greet him on our behalf; tell him that his sons 



and warriors and chiefs and those who remain here beg 
of him to remember them and to favour them from 
that place where he is, and to receive this small offering 
which we send him. Give him this staff to help him 
on his journey, and this shield for his defence, and all 
the rest that you have in this bundle." The victim, 
having undertaken to carry the message to the sun- 
god, was then despatched upon his long journey. 

A Quauhxicalli is preserved in the National Museum 
of Mexico. It consists of a basaltic mass, circular in 
form, on which are shown in sculpture a series of 
groups representing Mexican warriors receiving the 
submission of war-captives. The prisoner tenders a 
flower to his captor, symbolical of the life he is about 
to offer up, for lives were the " flowers ' ' offered to the 
gods, and the campaign in which these " blossoms " 
were captured was called Xochiyayotl (The War of 
Flowers). The warriors who receive the submission 
of the captives are represented in the act of tearing the 
plumes from their heads. These bas-reliefs occupy the 
sides of the stone. The face of it is covered by a great 
solar disc having eight rays, and the surface is hollowed 
out in the middle to form a receptacle for blood — the 
" cup " alluded to in the name of the stone. The 
Quauhxicalli must not be confounded with the temalacatl 
(spindle stone), to which the alien warrior who received 
a chance of life was secured. The gladiatorial combat 
gave the war-captive an opportunity to escape through 
superior address in arms. The temalacatl was somewhat 
higher than a man, and was provided with a platform 
at the top, in the middle of which was placed a great 
stone with a hole in it through which a rope was passed. 
To this the war-captive was secured, and if he could 
vanquish seven of his captors he was released. If he 
failed to do so he was at once sacrificed. 



A Mexican Valhalla 

The Mexican warriors believed that they continued 
in the service of the sun after death, and, like the 
Scandinavian heroes in Valhalla, that they were admitted 
to the dwelling of the god, where they shared all the 
delights of his diurnal round. The Mexican warrior 
dreaded to die in his bed, and craved an end on the field 
of battle. This explains the desperate nature of their 
resistance to the Spaniards under Cortes, whose officers 
stated that the Mexicans seemed to desire to die 
fighting. After death they believed that they would 
partake of the cannibal feasts offered up to the sun 
and imbibe the juice of flowers. 

The Feast of Totec 

The chief of the festivals to the sun was that held in 
spring at the vernal equinox, before the representa- 
tion of a deity known as Totec (Our Great Chief). 
Although Totec was a solar deity he had been adopted 
from the people of an alien state, the Zapotecs of 
Zalisco, and is therefore scarcely to be regarded as the 
principal sun-god. His festival was celebrated by the 
symbolical slaughter of all the other gods for the pur- 
pose of providing sustenance to the sun, each of the 
gods being figuratively slain in the person of a victim. 
Totec was attired in the same manner as the warrior 
despatched twice a year to assure the sun of the loyalty 
of the Mexicans. The festival appears to have been 
primarily a seasonal one, as bunches of dried maize 
were offered to Totec. But its larger meaning is obvious. 
It was, indeed, a commemoration of the creation of the 
sun. This is proved by the description of the image of 
Totec, which was robed and equipped as the solar 
traveller, by the solar disc and tables of the sun's 



progress carved on the altar employed in the ceremony, 
and by the robes of the victims, who were dressed to 
represent dwellers in the sun-god's halls. Perhaps 
Totec, although of alien origin, was the only deity 
possessed by the Mexicans who directly represented 
the sun. As a borrowed god he would have but 
a minor position in the Mexican pantheon, but again 
as the only sun-god whom it was necessary to bring 
into prominence during a strictly solar festival he 
would be for the time, of course, a very important 
deity indeed. 


Tepeyollotl means Heart of the Mountain, and 
evidently alludes to a deity whom the Nahua con- 
nected with seismic disturbances and earthquakes. By 
the interpreter of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis he 
is called Tepeolotlec, an obvious distortion of his real 
name. The interpreter of the codex states that his 
name " refers to the condition of the earth after the 
flood. The sacrifices of these thirteen days were not 
good, and the literal translation of their name is c dirt 
sacrifices.' They caused palsy and bad humours. . . . 
This Tepeolotlec was lord of these thirteen days. In 
them were celebrated the feast to the jaguar, and the 
last four preceding days were days of fasting. . . . 
Tepeolotlec means the c Lord of Beasts.' The four 
feast days were in honour of the Suchiquezal, who was 
the man that remained behind on the earth upon which 
we now live. This Tepeolotlec was the same as the 
echo of the voice when it re-echoes in a valley from one 
moutitain to another. This name l jaguar ' is given to 
the earth because the jaguar is the boldest animal, and 
the echo which the voice awakens in the mountains is a 
survival of the flood, it is said." 




- *: 

= ■*■ 







From this we can see that Tepeyollotl is a deity of 
the earth pure and simple, a god of desert places. It 
is certain that he was not a Mexican god, or at least 
was not of Nahua origin, as he is mentioned by none 
of those writers who deal with Nahua traditions, 
and we must look for him among the Mixtecs and 

MacuilxochitI, or Xochipilli 

This deity, whose names mean Five-Flower and 
Source of Flowers, was regarded as the patron of luck 
in gaming. He may have been adopted by the Nahua 
from the Zapotecs, but the converse may be equally 
true. The Zapotecs represented him with a design re- 
sembling a butterfly about the mouth, and a many- 
coloured face which looks out of the open jaws of a 
bird with a tall and erect crest. The worship of this 
god appears to have been very widespread. Sahagun 
says of him that a fite was held in his honour, which 
was preceded by a rigorous fast. The people covered 
themselves with ornaments and jewels symbolic of the 
deity, as if they desired to represent him, and dancing 
and singing proceeded gaily to the sound of the drum. 
Offerings of the blood of various animals followed, 
and specially prepared cakes were submitted to the god. 
This simple fare, however, was later followed by human 
sacrifices, rendered by the notables, who brought certain 
of their slaves for immolation. This completed the 

Father and Mother Gods 

The Nahua believed that Ometecutli and Omeciuatl 

were the father and mother of the human species. The 

names signify Lords of Duality or Lords of the Two 

Sexes. They were also called Tonacatecutli and Tona- 



caciuatl (Lord and Lady of Our Flesh, or of Subsistence). 
They were in fact regarded as the sexual essence of the 
creative deity, or perhaps more correctly of deity in 
general. They occupied the first place in the Nahua 
calendar, to signify that they had existed from the 
beginning, and they are usually represented as being 
clothed in rich attire. Ometecutli (a literal translation 
of his name is Two-Lord) is sometimes identified with 
the sky and the fire-god, the female deity represent- 
ing the earth or water — conceptions similar to those 
respecting Kronos and Gaea. We refer again to 
these supreme divinities in the following chapter (see 
p. 1 1 8). 

The Pulque^Gods 

When a man was intoxicated with the native Mexican 
drink of pulque, a liquor made from the juice of the 
Agave Americana , he was believed to be under the 
influence of a god or spirit. The commonest form 
under which the drink-god was worshipped was the 
rabbit, that animal being considered to be utterly devoid 
of sense. This particular divinity was known as Ome- 
tochtli. The scale of debauchery which it was desired 
to reach was indicated by the number of rabbits wor- 
shipped, the highest number, four hundred, represent- 
ing the most extreme degree of intoxication. The 
chief pulque-gods apart' from these were Patecatl and 
Tequechmecauiani. If the drunkard desired to escape 
the perils of accidental hanging during intoxication, it 
was necessary to sacrifice to the latter, but if death by 
drowning was apprehended Teatlahuiani, the deity who 
harried drunkards to a watery grave, was placated. If 
the debauchee wished his punishment not to exceed 
a headache, Quatlapanqui (The Head-splitter) was 

sacrificed to, or else Papaztac (The Nerveless). Each 


trade or profession had its own Ometochtli, but for 
the aristocracy there was only one of these gods, 
Cohuatzincatl, a name signifying " He who has Grand- 
parents/' Several of these drink-gods had names which 
connected them with various localities ; for example, 
Tepoxtecatl was the pulque-god of Tepoztlan. The 
calendar day Ometochtli, which means " Two-Rabbit,' ' 
because of the symbol which accompanied it, was under 
the special protection of these gods, and the Mexicans 
believed that any one born on that day was almost 
inevitably doomed to become a drunkard. All the 
pulque-gods were closely associated with the soil, 
and with the earth-goddess. They wore the golden 
Huaxtec nose-ornament, the yaca-metztli y of crescent 
shape, which characterised the latter, and indeed this 
ornament was inscribed upon all articles sacred to the 
pulque-gods. Their faces were painted red and black, as 
were objects consecrated to them, their blankets and 
shields. After the Indians had harvested their maize 
they drank to intoxication, and invoked one or other of 
these gods. On the whole it is safe to infer that they 
were originally deities of local husbandry who imparted 
virtue to the soil as pulque imparted strength and courage 
to the warrior. The accompanying sketch of the god 
Tepoxtecatl (see p. 117) well illustrates the distinguish- 
ing characteristics of the pulque-god class. Here we 
can observe the face painted in two colours, the 
crescent-shaped nose-ornament, the bicoloured shield, 
the long necklace made from the malinalli herb, and the 

It is of course clear that the drink-gods were of the 
same class as the food-gods — patrons of the fruitful 
soil — but it is strange that they should be male whilst 
the food-gods are mostly female. 



The Goddesses of Mexico: Metztli 

Metztli, or Yohualticitl (The Lady of Night), was the 
Mexican goddess of the moon. She had in reality two 
phases, one that of a beneficent protectress of harvests 
and promoter of growth in general, and the other that 
of a bringer of dampness, cold, and miasmic airs, ghosts, 
mysterious shapes of the dim half-light of night and 
its oppressive silence. 

To a people in the agricultural stage of civilisation 
the moon appears as the great recorder of harvests. But 
she has also supremacy over water, which is always con- 
nected by primitive peoples with the moon. Citatli 
(Moon) and Atl (Water) are constantly confounded in 
Nahua myth, and in many ways their characteristics 
were blended. It was Metztli who led forth Nanahuatl 
the Leprous to the pyre whereon he perished — a 
reference to the dawn, in which the starry sky of night 
is consumed in the fires of the rising sun. 


Tlazolteotl (God of Ordure), or Tlaelquani (Filth- 
eater), was called by the Mexicans the earth-goddess 
because she was the eradicator of sins, to whose priests 
the people went to make confession so that they might 
be absolved from their misdeeds. Sin was symbolised 
by the Mexicans as excrement. Confession covered 
only the sins of immorality. But if Tlazolteotl was 
the goddess of confession, she was also the patroness of 
desire and luxury. It was, however, as a deity whose 
chief office was the eradication of human sin that she 
was pre-eminent. The process by which this was sup- 
posed to be effected is quaintly described by Sahagun in 
the twelfth chapter of his first book. The penitent 
addressed the confessor as follows : " Sir, I desire to 
1 06 

The Penitent addressing the Fire 
William Sewell 




approach that most powerful god, the protector of all, 
that is to say, Tezcatlipoca. 1 desire to tell him my sins 
in secret/ 1 The confessor replied : " Be happy, my 
son : that which thou wishest to do will be to thy 
good and advantage." The confessor then opened the 
divinatory book known as the Tonalamatl (that is, the 
Book of the Calendar) and acquainted the applicant with 
the day which appeared the most suitable for his con- 
fession. The day having arrived, the penitent provided 
himself with a mat, copal gum to burn as incense, and 
wood whereon to burn it. If he was a person high in 
office the priest repaired to his house, but in the case 
of lesser people the confession took place in the 
dwelling of the priest. Having lighted the fire and 
burned the incense, the penitent addressed the fire in 
the following terms : " Thou, lord, who art the father 
and mother of the gods, and the most ancient of them 
all, thy servant, thy slave bows before thee. Weeping, 
he approaches thee in great distress. He comes plunged 
in grief, because he has been buried in sin, having ' 
backslidden, and partaken of those vices and evil 
delights which merit death. O master most compas- 
sionate, who art the upholder and defence of all, receive 
the penitence and anguish of thy slave and vassal." 

This prayer having concluded, the confessor then 
turned to the penitent and thus addressed him : " My 
son, thou art come into the presence of that god who 
is the protector and upholder of all ; thou art come to 
him to confess thy evil vices and thy hidden unclean- 
nesses ; thou art come to him to unbosom the secrets 
of thy heart. Take care that thou omit nothing from 
the catalogue of thy sins in the presence of our lord who 
is called Tezcatlipoca. It is certain that thou art before 
him who is invisible and impalpable, thou who art not 

worthy to be seen before him, or to speak with him. . . ." 



The allusions to Tezcatlipoca are, of course, to him 
in the shape of Tlazoltcotl. Having listened to a 
sermon by the confessor, the penitent then confessed 
his misdeeds, after which the confessor said : " My son, 
thou hast before our lord god confessed in his presence 
thy evil actions. 1 wish to say in his name that thou 
hast an obligation to make. At the time when the 
goddesses called Ciuapipiltin descend to earth during 
the celebration of the feast of the goddesses of carnal 
things, whom they name Ixcuiname, thou shalt fast 
during four days, punishing thy stomach and thy 
mouth. When the day of the feast of the Ixcuiname 
arrives thou shalt scarify thy tongue with the small 
thorns of the osier [called teocalcacatl or tlazotI\, and 
if that is not sufficient thou shalt do likewise to 
thine ears, the whole for penitence, for the remission of 
thy sin, and as a meritorious act. Thou wilt apply to 
thy tongue the middle of a spine of maguey, and thou 
wilt scarify thy shoulders. • , That done, thy sins 
will be pardoned." 

If the sins of the penitent were not very grave the 
priest would enjoin upon him a fast of a more or less 
prolonged nature. Only old men confessed crimes in 
veneribus, as the punishment for such was death, and 
younger men had no desire to risk the penalty involved, 
although the priests were enjoined to strict secrecy. 

Father Burgoa describes very fully a ceremony of 
this kind which came under his notice in 1652 in the 
Zapotec village of San Francisco de Cajonos. He en- 
countered on a tour of inspection an old native cacique, 
or chief, of great refinement of manners and of a stately 
presence, who dressed in costly garments after the 
Spanish fashion, and who was regarded by the Indians 
with much veneration. This man came to the priest 

for the purpose of reporting upon the progress in 


things spiritual and temporal in his village. Burgoa 

recognised his urbanity and wonderful command of the 

Spanish language, but perceived by certain signs that he 

had been taught to look for by long experience that the 

man was a pagan. He communicated his suspicions to 

the vicar of the village, but met with such assurances of 

the cacique s soundness of faith that he believed himself 

to be in error for once. Shortly afterwards, however, a 

wandering Spaniard perceived the chief in a retired 

place in the mountains performing idolatrous ceremonies, 

and aroused the monks, two of whom accompanied him 

to the spot where the cacique had been seen indulging 

in his heathenish practices. They found on the altar 

" feathers of many colours, sprinkled with blood which 

the Indians had drawn from the veins under their 

tongues and behind their ears, incense spoons and 

remains of copal, and in the middle a horrible stone 

figure, which was the god to whom they had offered 

this sacrifice in expiation of their sins, while they made 

their confessions to the blasphemous priests, and cast 

off their sins in the following manner : they had 

woven a kind of dish out of a strong herb, specially 

gathered for this purpose, and casting this before the 

priest, said to him that they came to beg mercy of their 

god, and pardon for their sins that they had committed 

during that year, and that they brought them all 

carefully enumerated. They then drew out of a cloth 

pairs of thin threads made of dry maize husks, that 

they had tied two by two in the middle with a knot, by 

which they represented their sins. They laid these 

threads on the dishes of grass, and over them pierced 

their veins, and let the blood trickle upon them, and 

the priest took these offerings to the idol, and in a long 

speech he begged the god to forgive these, his sons, 

their sins which were brought to him, and to permit 



them to be joyful arid hold feasts to him as their god 
and lord. Then the priest came back to those who had 
confessed, delivered a long discourse on the ceremonies 
they had still to perform, and told them that the god 
had pardoned them and that they might be glad again 
and sin anew." 


This goddess was the wife of Tlaloc, the god 
of rain and moisture. The name means Lady of 
the Emerald Robe, in allusion to the colour of the 
element over which the deity partly presided. She was 
specially worshipped by the water-carriers of Mexico, 
and all those whose avocation brought them into 
contact with water. Her costume was peculiar and 
interesting. Round her neck she wore a wonderful 
collar of precious stones, from which hung a gold 
pendant. She was crowned with a coronet of blue 
paper, decorated with green feathers. Her eyebrows 
were of turquoise, set in as mosaic, and her garment was 
a nebulous blue-green in hue, recalling the tint of sea- 
water in the tropics. The resemblance was heightened 
by a border of sea-flowers or water-plants, one of which 
she also carried in her left hand, whilst in her right she 
bore a vase surmounted by a cross, emblematic of the 
four points of the compass whence comes the rain. 


Mixcoatl was the Aztec god of the chase, and was 
probably a deity of the Otomi aborigines of Mexico. 
The name means Cloud Serpent, and this originated 
the idea that Mixcoatl was a representation of the 
tropical whirlwind. This is scarcely correct, however, 
as the hunter-god is identified with the tempest and 

thunder-cloud, and the lightning is supposed to 


Cloud Serpent, the Hunter-God 
Gilbert James 




represent his arrows. Like many other gods of the 
chase, he is figured as having the characteristics of a 
deer or rabbit. He is usually depicted as carry ng 
a sheaf of arrows, to typify thunderbolts. It may be 
that Mixcoatl was an air and thunder deity of the 
Otomi, older in origin than either Quetzalcoatl or 
Tezcatlipoca, and that his inclusion in the Nahua 
pantheon becoming necessary in order to quieten 
Nahua susceptibilities, he received the status of god 
of the chase. But, on the other hand, the Mexicans, 
unlike the Peruvians, who adopted many foreign gods 
for political purposes, had little regard for the feelings 
of other races, and only accepted an alien deity into the 
native circle for some good reason, most probably 
because they noted the omission of the figure in their 
own divine system. Or, again, dread of a certain 
foreign god might force them to adopt him as their 
own in the hope of placating him. Their worship of 
Quetzalcoatl is perhaps an instance of this. 


This deity was the war-god of the Tlascalans, 
who were constantly in opposition to the Aztecs of 
Mexico. He was to the warriors of Tlascala practically 
what Huitzilopochtli was to those of Mexico. He 
was closely identified with Mixcoatl, and with the god 
of the morning star, whose colours are depicted on his 
face and body. But in all probability Camaxtli was a 
god of the chase, who in later times was adopted as 
a god of war because of his possession of the lightning 
dart, the symbol of divine warlike prowess. In the 
mythologies of North America we find similar hunter- 
gods, who sometimes evolve into gods of war for a like 
reason, and again gods of the chase who have all the 
appearance and attributes of the creatures hunted. 




lxtlilton (The Little Black One) was the Mexican 
god of medicine and healing, and therefore was often 
alluded to as the brother of Macuilxochitl, the god 
of well-being or good luck. From the account of the 
general appearance of his temple — an edifice of painted 
boards — it would seem to have evolved from the 
primitive tent or lodge of the medicine-man, or shaman. 
It contained several water-jars called tlilatl (black water), 
the contents of which were administered to children in 
bad health. The parents of children who benefited from 
the treatment bestowed a feast on the deity, whose idol 
was carried to the residence of the grateful father, 
where ceremonial dances and oblations were made 
before it. It was then thought that lxtlilton descended 
to the courtyard to open fresh jars of pulque liquor pro- 
vided for the feasters, and the entertainment concluded 
by an examination by the Aztec ^Esculapius of such of 
the pulque jars dedicated to his service as stood in the 
courtyard for everyday use. Should these be found in 
an unclean condition, it was understood that the master 
of the house was a man of evil life, and he was presented 
by the priest with a mask to hide his face from his 
scoffing friends, 

Omacatl r 

Omacatl was the Mexican god of festivity and joy. 
The name signifies Two Reeds. He was worshipped 
chiefly by bon-vivants and the rich, who celebrated him 
in splendid feasts and orgies. The idol of the deity 
was invariably placed in the chamber where these 
functions were to take place, and the Aztecs were 
known to regard it as a heinous offence if anything 
derogatory to the god were performed during the con- 



vivial ceremony, or if any omission were made from 
the prescribed form which these gatherings usually 
took. It was thought that if the host had been in 
any way remiss Omacatl would appear to the 
startled guests, and in tones of great severity up- 
braid him who had given the feast, intimating that he 
would regard him no longer as a worshipper and 
would henceforth abandon him. A terrible malady, 
the symptoms of which were akin to those of falling- 
sickness, would shortly afterwards seize the guests ; 
but as such symptoms are not unlike those connected 
with acute indigestion and other gas ric troubles, 
it is probable that the gourmets who paid homage 
to the god of good cheer may have been suffering 
from a too strenuous instead of a lukewarm worship 
of him. But the idea of communion which under- 
lay so many of the Mexican rites undoubtedly 
entered into the worship of Omacatl, for prior to a 
banquet in his honour those who took part in it 
formed a great bone out of maize paste, pretending 
that it was one of the bones of the deity whose merry 
rites they were about to engage in. This they devoured, 
washing it down with great draughts of pulque. The 
idol of Omacatl was provided with a recess in the 
region of the stomach, and into this provisions were 
stuffed. He was represented as a squatting figure, 
painted black and white, crowned with a paper coronet, 
and hung with coloured paper. A flower-fringed cloak 
and sceptre were the other symbols of royalty worn by 
this Mexican Dionysus. 


Opochtli (The Left-handed) was the god sacred to 

fishers and bird-catchers. At one period of Aztec 

history he must have been a deity of considerable 

h 113 


consequence, since for generations the Aztecs were 
marsh-dwellers and depended for their daily food on 
the fish netted in the lakes and the birds snared in 
the reeds. They credited the god with the invention 
of the harpoon or trident for spearing fish and the 
fishing-rod and bird-net. The fishermen and bird- 
catchers of Mexico held on occasion a special feast in 
honour of Opochtli, at which a certain liquor called 
octli was consumed. A procession was afterwards 
formed, in which marched old people v/ho had 
dedicated themselves to the worship of the god, 
probably because they could obtain no other means of 
subsistence than that afforded by the vocation of which 
he was tutelar and patron. He was represented as 
a man painted black, his head decorated with the 
plumes of native wild birds, and crowned by a paper 
coronet in the shape of a rose. He was clad in 
green paper which fell to the knee, and was shod with 
white sandals. In his left hand he held a shield 
painted red, having in the centre a white flower with 
four petals placed crosswise, and in his right hand he 
held a sceptre in the form of a cup. 


Yacatecutli was the patron of travellers of the 
merchant class, who worshipped him by piling their 
staves together and sprinkling on the heap blood from 
their noses and ears. The staff of the traveller was his 
symbol, to which prayer was made and offerings of 
flowers and incense tendered. 

The Aztec Priesthood 

The Aztec priesthood was a hierarchy in whose hands 
resided a goodly portion of the power of the upper 
classes, especially that connected with education and 
lI 4 

■ ' 

Mexican Goddess 

Photo C. B. Waite, Mexico 

II 4 



endowment. The mere fact that its members possessed 
the power of selecting victims for sacrifice must have 
been sufficient to place them in an almost unassailable 
position, and their prophetic utterances, founded upon 
the art of divination — so great a feature in the life 
of the Aztec people, who depended upon it from the 
cradle to the grave — probably assisted them in main- 
taining their hold upon the popular imagination. But 
withal the evidence of unbiased Spanish ecclesiastics, 
such as Sahagun, tends to show that they utilised their 
influence for good, and soundly instructed the people 
under their charge in the cardinal virtues ; " in short," 
says the venerable friar, " to perform the duties plainly 
pointed out by natural religion." 

Priestly Revenues 

The establishment of the national religion was, as in 
the case of the mediaeval Church in Europe, based upon 
a land tenure from which the priestly class derived 
a substantial though, considering their numbers, by 
no means inordinate revenue. The principal temples 
possessed lands which sufficed for the maintenance of 
the priests attached to them. There was, besides, a 
system of first-fruits fixed by law for the priesthood, 
the surplusage therefrom being distributed among the 


Education was entirely conducted by the priest- 
hood, which undertook the task in a manner highly 
creditable to it, when consideration is given to sur- 
rounding conditions. Education, was, indeed, highly 
organised. It was divided into primary and secondary 
grades. Boys were instructed by priests, girls by 
holy women or " nuns." The secondary schools 


were called calmecac^ and were devoted to the higher 
branches of education, the curriculum including the 
deciphering of the pinturas, or manuscripts, astrology 
and divination, with a wealth of religious instruction. 

Orders of the Priesthood 

At the head of the Aztec priesthood stood the 
Mexicatl Teohuatzin (Mexican Lord of Divine 
Matters). He had a seat on the emperor's council, 
and possessed power which was second only to the 
royal authority. Next in rank to him was the high- 
priest of Quetzalcoatl, who dwelt in almost entire 
seclusion, and who had authority over his own caste 
only. This office was in all probability a relic from 
" Toltec ' times. The priests of Quetzalcoatl were 
called by name after their tutelar deity. The lesser 
grades included the Tlenamacac (Ordinary Priests), 
who were habited in black, and wore their hair long, 
covering it with a kind of mantilla. The lowest order 
was that of the Lamacazton (Little Priests), youths 
who were graduating in the priestly office. 

An Exacting Ritual 

The priesthood enjoyed no easy existence, but led an 
austere life of fasting, penance, and prayer, with constant 
observance of an arduous and exacting ritual, which em- 
braced sacrifice, the upkeep of perpetual fires, the chanting 
of holy songs to the gods, dances, and the superintend- 
ence of the ever-recurring festivals. They were re- 
quired to rise during the night to render praise, and to 
maintain themselves in a condition of absolute cleanli- 
ness by means of constant ablutions. We have seen 
that blood-offering — the substitution of the part for 
the whole — was a common method of sacrifice, and in 
this the priests engaged personally on frequent occa- 


sions. If the caste did not spare the people it 
certainly did not spare itself, and its outlook was 
perhaps only a shade more gloomy and fanatical than 
that of the Spanish hierarchy which succeeded it in the 


* 1 7 


The Mexican Idea of the Creation 

" ' N the year and in the day of the clouds," writes 
Garcia in his Origin de los Indias, professing 
1 to furnish the reader with a translation of an 
original Mixtec picture-manuscript, " before ever were 
years or days, the world lay in darkness. All things 
were orderless, and a water covered the slime and ooze 
that the earth then was." This picture is common to 
almost all American creation-stories. 1 The red man in 
general believed the habitable globe to have been 
created from the slime which arose above the primeval 
waters, and there can be no doubt that the Nahua 
shared this belief. We encounter in Nahua myth two 
beings of a bisexual nature, known to the Aztecs as 
Ometecutli-Omeciuatl (Lords of Duality), who were 
represented as the deities dominating the genesis of 
things, the beginning of the world. We have already 
become acquainted with them in Chapter II (see p. 
104), but we may recapitulate. These beings, whose 
individual names were Tonacatecutli and Tonacaciuatl 
(Lord and Lady of our Flesh), occupy the first place 
in the calendar, a circumstance which makes it* plain 
that they were regarded as responsible for the origin 
of all created things. They were invariably repre- 
sented as being clothed in rich, variegated garments, 
symbolical of light. Tonacatecutli, the male principle 
of creation or world-generation, is often identified with 
the sun- or fire-god, but there is no reason to consider 
him as symbolical of anything but the sky. The 
firmament is almost universally regarded by American 

1 See the author's article on " American Creation-Myth9 " in 
the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. iv. 


aboriginal peoples as the male principle of the cosmos, 
in contradistinction to the earth, which they think of 
as possessing feminine attributes, and which is un- 
doubtedly personified in this instance by Tonacaciuatl. 

In North American Indian myths we find the Father 
Sky brooding upon the Mother Earth, just as in early 
Greek creation-story we see the elements uniting, 
the firmament impregnating the soil and rendering it 
fruitful. To the savage mind the growth of crops and 
vegetation proceeds as much from the sky as from the 
earth. Untutored man beholds the fecundation of the 
soil by rain, and, seeing in everything the expression of 
an individual and personal impulse, regards the genesis 
of vegetable growth as analogous to human origin. 
To him, then, the sky is the life-giving male principle, 
the fertilising seed of which descends in rain. The 
earth is the receptive element which hatches that with 
which the sky has impregnated her. 

Ixtlilxochitl's Legend of the Creation 

One of the most complete creation-stories in Mexican 

mythology is that given by the half-blood Indian author 

Ixtlilxochitl, who, we cannot doubt, received it directly 

' from native sources. He states that the Toltecs credited 

a certain Tloque Nahuaque (Lord of All Existence) with 

the creation of the universe, the stars, mountains, and 

animals. At the same time he made the first man 

and woman, from whom all the inhabitants of the earth 

are descended. This "first ear th" was destroyed by 

the " water-sun." At the commencement of the next 

epoch the Toltecs appeared, and after many wanderings 

settled in Huehue Tlapallan (Very Old Tlapallan). 

Then followed the second catastrophe, that of the 

"wind- sun." The remainder of the legend recounts 

how mighty earthquakes shook the world and destroyed 



the earth-giants. These earth-giants (Quinames) were 
analogous to the Greek Titans, and were a source of 
great uneasiness to the Toltecs. In the opinion of the 
old historians they were descended from the races who 
inhabited the more northerly portion of Mexico. 

Creation'Story of the Mixtecs 

It will be well to return for a moment to the creation- 
story of the Mixtecs, which, if emanating from a some- 
what isolated people in the extreme south of the 
Mexican Empire, at least affords us a vivid picture of 
what a folk closely related to the Nahua race regarded 
as a veritable account of the creative process. When 
the earth had arisen from the primeval waters, one day 
the deer-god, who bore the surname Puma-Snake, 
and the beautiful deer-goddess, or Jaguar-Snake, 
appeared. They had human form, and with their 
great knowledge (that is, with their magic) they raised 
a high cliff over the water, and built on it fine palaces 
for their dwelling. On the summit of this cliff they 
laid a copper axe with the edge upward, and on this 
edge the heavens rested. The palaces stood in Upper 
Mixteca, close to Apoala, and the cliff was called Place 
where the Heavens Stood. The gods lived happily 
together for many centuries, when it chanced that two 
little boys were born to them, beautiful of form and 
skilled and experienced in the arts. From the days 
of their birth they were named Wind-Nine-Snake 
(Viento de Neuve Culebras) and Wind-Nine-Cave 
(Viento de Neuve Cavernas). Much care was given 
to their education, and they possessed the knowledge 
of how to change themselves into an eagle or a snake, 
to make themselves invisible, and even to pass through 
solid bodies. 

After a time these youthful gods decided to make 
1 20 

Place where the Heavens Stood " 

William Sewell 




an offering and a sacrifice to their ancestors. Taking 
incense vessels made of clay, they filled them with 
tobacco, to which they set fire, allowing it to smoulder. 
The smoke rose heavenward, and that was the first 
offering (to the gods). Then they made a garden with 
shrubs and flowers, trees and fruit-bearing plants, and 
sweet-scented herbs. Adjoining this they made a grass- 
grown level place (un prado\ and equipped it with 
everything necessary for sacrifice. The pious brothers 
lived contentedly on this piece of ground, tilled it, 
burned tobacco, and with prayers, vows, and promises 
they supplicated their ancestors to let the light appear, 
to let the water collect in certain places and the earth 
be freed from its covering (water), for they had no 
more than that little garden for their subsistence. In 
order to strengthen their prayer they pierced their ears 
and their tongues with pointed knives of flint, and 
sprinkled the blood on the trees and plants with a brush 
of willow twigs. 

The deer-gods had more sons and daughters, but 
there came a flood in which many of these perished. 
After the catastrophe was over the god who is called 
the Creator of All Things formed the heavens and the 
earth, and restored the human race. 

Zapotec Creation'Myth 

Among the Zapotecs, a people related to the Mixtecs, 
we find a similar conception of the creative process. 
Cozaana is mentioned as the creator and maker of all 
beasts in the valuable Zapotec dictionary of Father 
Juan de Cordova, and Huichaana as the creator of men 
and fishes. Thus we have two separate creations for 
men and animals. Cozaana would appear to apply to 
the sun as the creator of all beasts, but, strangely 
enough, is alluded to in Cordova's dictionary as 



" procreatrix," whilst he is undoubtedly a male deity. 
Huichaana, the creator of men and fishes, is, on the 
other hand, alluded to as " water," or " the element of 
water," and " goddess of generation." She is certainly 
the Zapotec female part of the creative agency. In the 
Mixtec creation-myth we can see the actual creator and 
the first pair of tribal gods, who were also considered 
the progenitors of animals — to the savage equal inhabi- 
tants of the world with himself. The names of the 
brothers Nine-Snake and Nine-Cave undoubtedly 
allude to light and darkness, day and night. It may be 
that these deities are the same as Quetzalcoatl and 
Xolotl (the latter a Zapotec deity), who were regarded as 
twins. In some ways Quetzalcoatl was looked upon as a 
creator, and in the Mexican calendar followed the Father 
and Mother, or original sexual deities, being placed in 
the second section as the creator of the world and man. 

The Mexican Noah 

Flood-myths, curiously enough, are of more common 
occurrence among the Nahua and kindred peoples than 
creation-myths. The Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg has 
translated one from the Codex Chimalpopoca, a work 
in Nahuatl dating from the latter part of the sixteenth 
century. It recounts the doings of the Mexican Noah 
and his wife as follows : 

" And this year was that of Ce-calli, and on the 
first day all was lost. The mountain itself was sub- 
merged in the water, and the water remained tranquil 
for fifty-two springs. 

" Now toward the close of the year Titlacahuan had 
forewarned the man named Nata and his wife Nena, 
saying, * Make no more pulque, but straightway hollow 
out a large cypress, and enter it when in the month 
Tozoztli the water shall approach the sky.' They 



A Flood-Myth of the Nahua 
William Sewell 




entered it, and when Titlacahuan had closed the door 
he said, ' Thou shalt eat but a single ear of maize, and 
thy wife but one also.' 

"As soon as they had finished eating, they went 
forth, and the water was tranquil ; for the log did not 
move any more ; and opening it they saw many fish. 

" Then they built a fire, rubbing together pieces of 
wood, and they roasted fish. The gods Citallinicue 
and Citallatonac, looking below, exclaimed, 'Divine 
Lord, what means that fire below ? Why do they thus 
smoke the heavens ? ' 

"Straightway descended Titlacahuan - Tezcatlipoca, 
and commenced to scold, saying, i What is this fire 
doing here } ' And seizing the fishes he moulded their 
hinder parts and changed their heads, and they were 
at once transformed into dogs." 

The Myth of the Seven Caverns 

But other legends apart from the creation-stories of 
the world pure and simple deal with the origin of 
mankind. The Aztecs believed that the first men 
emerged from a place known as Chicomoztoc (The 
Seven Caverns), located north of Mexico. Various 
writers have seen in these mythic recesses the fabulous 
" seven cities of Cibola " and the Casas Grandes, ruins 
of extensive character in the valley of the river Gila, 
and so forth. But the allusion to the magical number 
seven in the myth demonstrates that the entire story is 
purely imaginary and possesses no basis of fact. A 
similar story occurs among the myths of the Kiche of 
Guatemala and the Peruvians. 

The Sacrificed Princess 

Coming to semi-historical times, we find a variety 
of legends connected with the early story of the city of 



Mexico. These for the most part are of a weird and 
gloomy character, and throw much light on the dark 
fanaticism of a people which could immolate its children 
on the altars of implacable gods. It is told how after 
the Aztecs had built the city of Mexico they raised an 
altar to their war-god Huitzilopochtli. In general the 
lives rendered to this most sanguinary of deities were 
those of prisoners of war, but in times of public 
calamity he demanded the sacrifice of the noblest in the 
land. On one occasion his oracle required that a royal 
princess should be offered on the high altar. The 
Aztec king, either possessing no daughters of his own 
or hesitating to sacrifice them, sent an embassy to the 
monarch of Colhuacan to ask for one of his daughters- 
to become the symbolical mother of Huitzilopochtli. 
The King of Colhuacan, suspecting nothing amiss, and 
highly flattered at the distinction, delivered up the 
girl, who was escorted to Mexico, where she was 
sacrificed with much pomp, her skin being flayed off 
to clothe the priest who represented the deity in 
the festival. The unhappy father was invited to this 
hideous orgy, ostensibly to witness his daughter's 
deification. In the gloomy chambers of the war-god's 
temple he was at first unable to mark the trend of the 
horrid ritual. But, given a torch of copal-gum, he 
saw the officiating priest clothed in his daughter's skin, 
receiving the homage of the worshippers.* Recognising 
her features, and demented with grief and horror, he 
fled from the temple, a broken man, to spend the 
remainder of his days in mourning for his murdered 

The Fugitive Prince 

One turns with relief from such a sanguinary tale 

to the consideration of the pleasing semi-legendary 


accounts of Ixtlilxochitl regarding the civilisation of 
Tezcuco, Mexico's neighbour and ally. We have seen 
in the sketch of Nahua history which has been given 
how the Tecpanecs overcame the Acolhuans of Tezcuco 
and slew their king about the year 141 8. Nezahual- 
coyotl (Fasting Coyote), the heir to the Tezcucan 
throne, beheld the butchery of his royal father from the 
shelter of a tree close by, and succeeded in making his 
escape from the invaders. His subsequent thrilling 
adventures have been compared with those of the 
Young Pretender after the collapse of the "Forty-five" 
resistance. He had not enjoyed many days of freedom 
when he was captured by those who had set out in 
pursuit of him, and, being haled back to his native 
city, was cast into prison. He found a friend in the 
governor of the place, who owed his position to the 
prince's late father, and by means of his assistance he 
succeeded in once more escaping from the hostile 
Tecpanecs. For aiding Nezahualcoyotl, however, the 
governor promptly paid the penalty of death. The 
royal family of Mexico interceded for the hunted youth, 
and he was permitted to find an asylum at the Aztec 
court, whence he later proceeded to his own city of 
Tezcuco, occupying apartments in the palace where his 
father had once dwelt. For eight years he remained 
there, existing unnoticed on the bounty of the Tecpanec 
chief who had usurped the throne of his ancestors. 

Maxtla the Fierce 

In course of time the original Tecpanec conqueror 
was gathered to his fathers, and was succeeded by his 
son Maxtla, a ruler who could ill brook the studious 
prince, who had journeyed to the capital of the 
Tecpanecs to do him homage. He refused Nezahual- 
coyotl's advances of friendship, and the latter was 



warned by a favourably disposed courtier to take 
refuge in flight. This advice he adopted, and returned 
to Tezcuco, where, however, Maxtla set a snare for his 
life. A function which took place in the evening 
afforded the tyrant his chance. But the prince's pre- 
ceptor frustrated the conspiracy, by means of substi- 
tuting for his charge a youth who strikingly resembled 
him. This second failure exasperated Maxtla so much 
that he sent a military force to Tezcuco, with orders to 
despatch Nezahualcoyotl without delay. But the same 
vigilant person who had guarded the prince so well 
before became apprised of his danger and advised him 
to fly. To this advice, however, Nezahualcoyotl re- 
fused to listen, and resolved to await the approach of 
his enemies. 

A Romantic Escape 

When they arrived he was engaged in the Mexican 
ball-game of tlachtli. With great politeness he requested 
them to enter and to partake of food. Whilst they 
refreshed themselves he betook himself to another 
room, but his action excited no surprise, as he could be 
seen through the open doorway by which the apart- 
ments communicated with each other. A huge censer, 
however, stood in the vestibule, and the clouds of 
incense which arose from it hid his movements from 
those who had been sent to slay him. Thus obscured, 
he succeeded in entering a subterranean passage which 
led to a large disused water-pipe, through which he 
crawled and made his escape. 

A Thrilling Pursuit 

For a season Nezahualcoyotl evaded capture by 

hiding in the hut of a zealous adherent. The hut was 

searched, but the pursuers neglected to look below a 

The Prince who fled for his Life 
Gilbert James 




heap of maguey fibre used for making cloth, under 
which he lay concealed. Furious at his enemy's escape, 
Maxtla now ordered a rigorous search, and a regular 
battue of the country round Tezcuco was arranged. A 
large reward was offered for the capture of Nezahual- 
coyotl dead or alive, along with a fair estate and the 
hand of a noble lady, and the unhappy prince was forced 
to seek safety in the mountainous country between 
Tezcuco and Tlascala. He became a wretched outcast, 
a pariah lurking in caves and woods, prowling about 
after nightfall in order to satisfy his hunger, and seldom 
having a whole night's rest, because of the vigilance of 
his enemies. Hotly pursued by them, he was compelled 
to seek some curious places of concealment in order to 
save himself. On one occasion he was hidden by some 
friendly soldiers inside a large drum, and on another 
he was concealed beneath some chia stalks by a girl 
who was engaged in reaping them. The loyalty of the 
Tezcucan peasantry to their hunted prince was extra- 
ordinary, and rather than betray his whereabouts to the 
creatures of Maxtla they on many occasions suffered 
torture, and even death itself. At a time when his 
affairs appeared most gloomy, however, Nezahualcoyotl 
experienced a change of fortune. The tyrannous 
Maxtla had rendered himself highly unpopular by his 
many oppressions, and the people in the territories he 
had annexed were by no means contented under his rule. 

The Defeat of Maxtla 

These malcontents decided to band themselves 
together to defy the tyrant, and offered the command 
of the force thus raised to Nezahualcoyotl. This he 
accepted, and the Tecpanec usurper was totally 
defeated in a general engagement. Restored to the 
throne of his fathers, Nezahualcoyotl allied himself 



with Mexico, and with the assistance of its monarch 
completely routed the remaining force of Maxtla, who 
was seized in the baths of Azcapozalco, haled forth 
and sacrificed, and his city destroyed. 

The Solon of Anahuac 

Nezahualcoyotl profited by the hard experiences he 
had undergone, and proved a wise and just ruler. 
The code of laws framed by him was an exceedingly 
drastic one, but so wise and enlightened was his rule 
that on the whole he deserves the title which has been 
conferred upon him of "the Solon of Anahuac." He 
generously encouraged the arts, and established a 
Council of Music, the purpose of which was to 
supervise artistic endeavour of every description. In 
Nezahualcoyotl Mexico found, in all probability, her 
greatest native poet. An ode of his on the mutability 
of life displays much nobility of thought, and strikingly 
recalls the sentiments expressed in the verses of Omar 

Nezahualcoyotl's Theology 

Nezahualcoyotl is said to have erected a temple to 
the Unknown God, and to have shown a marked pre- 
ference for the worship of one deity. In one of his 
poems he is credited with expressing the following 
exalted sentiments : r " Let us aspire to that heaven 
where all is eternal, and corruption cannot come. The 
horrors of the tomb are the cradle of the sun, and the 
dark shadows of death are brilliant lights for the stars." 
Unfortunately these ideas cannot be verified as the un- 
doubted sentiments of the royal bard of Tezcuco, and 
we are regretfully forced to regard the attribution as 
spurious. We must come to such a conclusion with 

very real disappointment, as to discover an untutored 


and spontaneous belief in one god in the midst of sur- 
roundings so little congenial to its growth would have 
been exceedingly valuable from several points of view. 

The Poet Prince 

We find Nezahualcoyotl's later days stained by an 
act which was unworthy of such a great monarch and 
wise man. His eldest son, the heir to the crown, 
entered into an intrigue with one of his father's wives, 
and dedicated many passionate poems to her, to which 
she replied with equal ardour. The poetical correspond- 
ence was brought before the king, who prized the 
lady highly because of her beauty. Outraged in his 
most sacred feelings, Nezahualcoyotl had the youth 
arraigned before the High Court, which passed sentence 
of death upon him — a sentence which his father per- 
mitted to be carried out. After his son's execution he 
shut himself up in his palace for some months, and 
gave orders that the doors and windows of the un- 
happy young man's residence should be built up so 
that never again might its walls echo to the sound of 
a human voice. 

The Queen with a Hundred Lovers 

In his History of the Chichimeca Ixtlilxochitl tells the 
following gruesome tale regarding the dreadful fate of 
a favourite wife of Nezahualpilli, the son of Nezahual- 
coyotl : When Axaiacatzin, King of Mexico, and other 
lords sent their daughters to King Nezahualpilli, for 
him to choose on z to be his queen and lawful wife, 
whose son might succeed to the inheritance, she who 
had the highest claims among them, for nobility of 
birth and rank, was Chachiuhnenetzin, the young 
daughter of the Mexican king. She had been brought 

up by the monarch in a separate palace, with great 

i 129 


pomp, and with numerous attendants, as became the 
daughter of so great a monarch. The number of 
servants attached to her household exceeded two 
thousand. Young as she was, she was exceedingly 
artful and vicious ; so that, finding herself alone, and 
seeing that her people feared her on account of her 
rank and importance, she began to give way to an 
unlimited indulgence of her power. Whenever she 
saw a young man who pleased her fancy she gave secret 
orders that he should be brought to her, and shortly 
afterwards he would be put to death. She would 
then order a statue or effigy of his person to be 
made, and, adorning it with rich clothing, gold, and 
jewellery, place it in the apartment in which she 
lived. The number of statues of those whom she thus 
sacrificed was so great as to almost fill the room. 
When the king came to visit her, and inquired 
respecting these statues, she answered that they were 
her gods ; and he, knowing how strict the Mexicans 
were in the worship of their false deities, believed her. 
But, as no iniquity can be long committed with entire 
secrecy, she was finally found out in this manner : 
Three of the young men, for some reason or other, 
she had left alive. Their names were Chicuhcoatl, 
Huitzilimitzin, and Maxtla, one of whom was lord of 
Tesoyucan and one of the grandees of the kingdom, 
and the other two nobles of high rank. It happened 
that one day the king recognised on the apparel of one 
of these a very precious jewel which he had given to 
the queen ; and although he had no fear of treason on 
her part it gave him some uneasiness. Proceeding to 
visit her that night, her attendants told him she was 
asleep, supposing that the king would then return, as 
he had done at other times. But the affair of the 
jewel made him insist on entering the chamber in 

The Princess and the Statues 
Gilbert James 




which she slept ; and, going to wake her, he found 
only a statue in the bed, adorned with her hair, and 
closely resembling her. Seeing this, and noticing 
that the attendants around were in much trepidation 
and alarm, the king called his guards, and, assembling 
all the people of the house, made a general search for 
the queen, who was shortly found at an entertain- 
ment with the three young lords, who were arrested 
with her. The king referred the case to the judges 
of his court, in order that they might make an 
inquiry into the matter and examine the parties 
implicated. These discovered many individuals, ser- 
vants of the queen, who had in some way or other 
been accessory to her crimes — workmen who had been 
engaged in making and adorning the statues, others 
who had aided in introducing the young men into the 
palace, and others, again, who had put them to death 
and concealed their bodies. The case having been 
sufficiently investigated, the king despatched ambassa- 
dors to the rulers of Mexico and Tlacopan, giving them 
information of the event, and signifying the day on 
which the punishment of the queen and her accomplices 
was to take place ; and he likewise sent through the 
empire to summon all the lords to bring their wives 
and their daughters, however young they might be, to 
be witnesses of a punishment which he designed for a 
great example. He also made a truce with all the 
enemies of the empire, in order that they might come 
freely to see it. The time having arrived, the number 
of people gathered together was so great that, large 
as was the city of Tezcuco, they could scarcely all find 
room in it. The execution took place publicly, in 
sight of the whole city. The queen was put to the 
garrotte (a method of strangling by means of a rope 
twisted round a stick), as well as her three gallants ; 



and, from their being persons of high birth, their bodies 
were burned, together with the effigies before men- 
tioned. The other parties who had been accessory to the 
crimes, who numbered more than two thousand persons, 
were also put to the garrotte, and burned in a pit made 
for the purpose in a ravine near a temple of the Idol of 
Adulterers. All applauded so severe and exemplary a 
punishment, except the Mexican lords, the relatives of 
the queen, who were much incensed at so public an 
example, and, although for the time they concealed 
their resentment, meditated future revenge. It was 
not without reason, says the chronicler, that the king 
experienced this disgrace in his household, since he was 
thus punished for an unworthy subterfuge made use of 
by his father to obtain his mother as a wife ! . 

This Nezahualpilli, the successor of Nezahualcoyotl, 
was a monarch of scientific tastes, and, as Torquemada 
states, had a primitive observatory erected in his palace. 

The Golden Age of Tezcuco 

The period embraced by the life of this monarch and 
his predecessor may be regarded as the Golden Age of 
Tezcuco, and as semi-mythical. The palace of Neza- 
hualcoyotl, according to the account of Ixtlilxochitl, 
extended east and west for 1234 yards, and for 978 yards 
from north to south. Enclosed by a high wall, it con- 
tained two large courts, one used as the municipal 
market-place, whilst the other was surrounded by ad- 
ministrative offices. A great hall was set apart for the 
special use of poets and men of talent, who held sympo- 
siums under its classic roof, or engaged in controversy 
in the surrounding corridors. The chronicles of the 
kingdom were also kept in this portion of the palace. 
The private apartments of the monarch adjoined this 
College of Bards. They were gorgeous in the extreme, 


and their description rivals that of the fabled Toltec 
city of Tollan. Rare stones and beautifully coloured 
plaster mouldings alternated with wonderful tapestries 
of splendid feather-work to make an enchanting 
display of florid decoration, and the gardens which 
surrounded this marvellous edifice were delightful 
retreats, where the lofty cedar and cypress over- 
hung sparkling fountains and luxurious baths. Fish 
darted hither and thither in the ponds, and the 
aviaries echoed to the songs of birds of wonderful 

A Fairy Villa 

According to Ixtlilxochitl, the king's villa of Tez- 
cotzinco was a residence which for sheer beauty had no 
equal in Persian romance, or in those dream-tales of 
Araby which in childhood we feel to be true, and in 
later life regretfully admit can only be known again by 
sailing the sea of Poesy or penetrating the mist-locked 
continent of Dream. The account of it which we have 
from the garrulous half-blood reminds us of the stately 
pleasure-dome decreed by Kubla Khan on the turbulent 
banks of the sacred Alph. A conical eminence was laid 
out in hanging gardens reached by an airy flight of five 
hundred and twenty marble steps. Gigantic walls con- 
tained an immense reservoir of water, in the midst of 
which was islanded a great rock carved with hieroglyphs 
describing the principal events in the reign of Nezahual- 
coyotl. In each of three other reservoirs stood a marble 
statue of a woman, symbolical of one of the three pro- 
vinces of Tezcuco. These great basins supplied the 
gardens beneath with a perennial flow of water, so 
directed as to leap in cascades over artificial rockeries or 
meander among mossy retreats with refreshing whisper, 
watering the roots. of odoriferous shrubs and flowers 



and winding in and out of the shadow of the cypress 
woods. Here and there pavilions of marble arose over 
porphyry baths, the highly polished stone of which 
reflected the bodies of the bathers. The villa itself 
stood amidst a wilderness of stately cedars, which 
shielded it from the torrid heat of the Mexican sun. 
The architectural design of this delightful edifice was 
light and airy in the extreme, and the perfume of the 
surrounding gardens rilled the spacious apartments with 
the delicious incense of nature. In this paradise the 
Tezcucan monarch sought in the company of his wives 
repose from the oppression of rule, and passed the lazy 
hours in gamesome sport and dance. The surrounding 
woods afforded him the pleasures of the chase, and 
art and nature combined to render his rural retreat a 
centre of pleasant recreation as well as of repose and 


That some such palace existed on the spot in question 
it would be absurd to deny, as its stupendous pillars 
and remains still litter the terraces of Tezcotzinco. But, 
alas ! we must not listen to the vapourings of the un- 
trustworthy Ixtlilxochitl, who claims to have seen the 
place. It will be better to turn to a more modern 
authority, who visited the site about seventy-five years 
ago, and who has given perhaps the best account of it. 
He says : 

" Fragments of pottery, broken pieces of obsidian 
knives and arrows, pieces of stucco, shattered terraces, 
and old walls were thickly dispersed over its whole sur- 
face. We soon found further advance on horseback 
impracticable, and, attaching our patient steeds to the 
nopal bushes, we followed our Indian guide on foot, 
scrambling upwards over rock and through tangled 


brushwood. On gaining the narrow ridge which con- 
nects the conical hill with one at the rear, we found the 
remains of a wall and causeway ; and, a little higher, 
reached a recess, where, at the foot of a small precipice, 
overhung with Indian fig and grass, the rock had been 
wrought by hand into a flat surface of large dimensions. 
In this perpendicular wall of rock a carved Toltec 
calendar existed formerly ; but the Indians, finding the 
place visited occasionally by foreigners from the capital, 
took it into their heads that there must be a silver vein 
there, and straightway set to work to find it, obliterating 
the sculpture, and driving a level beyond it into the 
hard rock for several yards. From this recess a few 
minutes* climb brought us to the summit of the hill. 
The sun was on the point of setting over the mountains 
on the other side of the valley, and the view spread 
beneath our feet was most glorious. The whole of the 
lake of Tezcuco, and the country and mountains on both 
sides, lay stretched before us. 

" But, however disposed, we dare not stop long to 
gaze and admire, but, descending a little obliquely, 
soon came to the so-called bath, two singular basins, 
of perhaps two feet and a half diameter, cut into a 
bastion-like solid rock, projecting from the general out- 
line of the hill, and surrounded by smooth carved seats 
and grooves, as we supposed — for I own the whole 
appearance of the locality was perfectly inexplicable to 
me. I have a suspicion that many of these horizontal 
planes and grooves were contrivances to aid their astro- 
nomical observations, one like that I have mentioned 
having been discovered by de Gama at Chapultepec. 

" As to Montezuma's Bath, it might be his foot-bath 
if you will, but it would be a moral impossibility for 
any monarch of larger dimensions than Oberon to take 
a duck in it. 



"The mountain bears the marks of human industry 
to its very apex, many of the blocks of porphyry of 
which it is composed being quarried into smooth hori- 
zontal planes. It is impossible to say at present what 
portion of the surface is artificial or not, such is the 
state of confusion observable in every part. 

" By what means nations unacquainted with the use 
of iron constructed works of such a smooth polish, in 
rocks of such hardness, it is extremely difficult to say. 
Many think tools of mixed tin and copper were em- 
ployed ; others, that patient friction was one of the 
main means resorted to. Whatever may have been 
the real appropriation of these inexplicable ruins, or the 
epoch of their construction, there can be no doubt but 
the whole of this hill, which I should suppose rises five 
or six hundred feet above the level of the plain, was 
covered with artificial works of one kind or another. 
They are doubtless rather of Toltec than of Aztec 
origin, and perhaps with still more probability attribut- 
able to a people of an age yet more remote." 

The Noble Tlascalan 

As may be imagined regarding a community where 
human sacrifice was rife, tales concerning those who 
were consigned to this dreadful fate were abundant. 
Perhaps the most striking of these is that relating to the 
noble Tlascalan warrior Tlalhuicole, who was captured 
in combat by the troops of Montezuma. Less than a 
year before the Spaniards arrived in Mexico war broke 
out between the Huexotzincans and the Tlascalans, to 
the former of whom the Aztecs acted as allies. On the 
battlefield there was captured by guile a very valiant 
Tlascalan leader called Tlalhuicole, so renowned for 
his prowess that the mere mention of his name was 
generally sufficient to deter any Mexican hero from 


attempting his capture. He was brought to Mexico in 
a cage, and presented to the Emperor Montezuma, 
who, on learning of his name and renown, gave him 
his liberty and overwhelmed him with honours. He 
further granted him permission to return to his own 
country, a boon he had never before extended to any 
captive. But Tlalhuicole refused his freedom, and 
replied that he would prefer to be sacrificed to the 
gods, according to the usual custom. Montezuma, 
who had the highest regard for him, and prized his 
life more than any sacrifice, would not consent to his 
immolation. At this juncture war broke out between 
Mexico and the Tarascans, and Montezuma announced 
the appointment of Tlalhuicole as chief of the expedi- 
tionary force. He accepted the command, marched 
against the Tarascans, and, having totally defeated them, 
returned to Mexico laden with an enormous booty and 
crowds of slaves. The city rang with his triumph. 
The emperor begged him to become a Mexican citizen, 
but he replied that on no account would he prove a 
traitor to his country. Montezuma then once more 
offered him his liberty, but he strenuously refused 
to return to Tlascala, having undergone the disgrace 
of defeat and capture. He begged Montezuma to 
terminate his unhappy existence by sacrificing him to 
the gods, thus ending the dishonour he felt in living 
on after having undergone defeat, and at the same 
time fulfilling the highest aspiration of his life — to die 
the death of a warrior on the stone of combat. Mon- 
tezuma, himself the noblest pattern of Aztec chivalry, 
touched at his request, could not but agree with him 
that he had chosen the most fitting fate for a hero, 
and ordered him to be chained to the stone of combat, 
the blood-stained temalacatL The most renowned of the 
Aztec warriors were pitted against him, and the emperor 



himself graced the sanguinary tournament with his 
presence. Tlalhuicole bore himself in the combat like 
a lion, slew eight warriors of renown, and wounded 
more than twenty. But at last he fell, covered with 
wounds, and was haled by the exulting priests to the 
altar of the terrible war-god Huitzilopochtli, to whom 
his heart was offered up. 

The Haunting Mothers 

It is only occasionally that we encounter either the 
gods or supernatural beings of any description in Mexican 
myth. But occasionally we catch sight of such beings 
as the Ciuapipiltin (Honoured Women), the spirits of 
those women who had died in childbed, a death highly 
venerated by the Mexicans, who regarded the woman 
who perished thus as the equal of a warrior who met 
his fate in battle. Strangely enough, these spirits were 
actively malevolent, probably because the moon-god- 
dess (who was also the deity of evil exhalations) was 
evil in her tendencies, and they were regarded as pos- 
sessing an affinity to her. It was supposed that they 
afflicted infants with various diseases, and Mexican 
parents took every precaution not to permit their off- 
spring out of doors on the days when their influence 
was believed to be strong. They were said to haunt 
the cross-roads, and even to enter the bodies of weakly 
people, the better to \vork their evil will. The insane 
were supposed to be under their especial visitation. 
Temples were raised at the cross-roads in order to 
placate them, and loaves of bread, shaped like butter- 
flies, were dedicated to them. They were repre- 
sented as having faces of a dead wrnte, and as blanching 
their arms and hands with a white powder known as 
tisatL Their eyebrows were of a golden hue, and their 

raiment was that of Mexican ladies of the ruling class. 


The Return of Papantzin 1 y 

One of the weirdest legends in Mexican tradition 
recounts how Papantzin, the sister of Montezuma II, 
returned from her tomb to prophesy to her royal 
brother concerning his doom and the fall of his empire 
at the hands of the Spaniards. On taking up the 
reins of government Montezuma had married this 
lady to one of his most illustrious servants, the 
governor of Tlatelulco, and after his death it would 
appear that she continued to exercise his almost vice- 
regal functions and to reside in his palace. In course 
of time she died, and her obsequies were attended by 
the emperor in person, accompanied by the greatest 
personages of his court and kingdom. The body was 
interred in a subterranean vault of his own palace, in 
close proximity to the royal baths, which stood in a 
sequestered part of the extensive grounds surrounding 
the royal residence. The entrance to the vault was 
secured by a stone slab of moderate weight, and when 
the numerous ceremonies prescribed for the interment 
of a royal personage had been completed the emperor and 
his suite retired. At daylight next morning one of the 
royal children, a little girl of some six years of age, 
having gone into the garden to seek her governess, 
espied the Princess Papan standing near the baths. The 
princess, who was her aunt, called to her, and requested 
her to bring her governess to her. The child did as 
she was bid, but her governess, thinking that imagina- 
tion had played her a trick, paid little attention to what 
she said. As the child persisted in her statement, the 
governess at last followed her into the garden, where 
she saw Papan sitting on one of the steps of the baths. 

1 The suffix tzin after a Mexican name denotes either " lord " 
or "lady," according to the sex of the person alluded to. 



The sight of the supposed dead princess filled the woman 
with such terror that she fell down in a swoon. The 
child then went to her mother's apartment, and detailed 
to her what had happened. She at once proceeded to 
the baths with two of her attendants, and at sight 
of Papan was also seized with affright. But the 
princess reassured her, and asked to be allowed to 
accompany her to her apartments, and that the entire 
affair should for the present be kept absolutely secret. 
Later in the day she sent for Ti^otzicatzin, her major- 
domo, and requested him to inform the emperor that 
she desired to speak with him immediately on matters 
of the greatest importance. The man, terrified, begged 
to be excused from the mission, and Papan then 
gave orders that her uncle Nezahualpilli, King of Tez- 
cuco, should be communicated with. That monarch, 
on receiving her request that he should come to her, 
hastened to the palace. The princess begged him 
to see the emperor without loss of time and to 
entreat him to come to her at once. Montezuma 
heard his story with surprise mingled with doubt. 
Hastening to his sister, he cried as he approached her : 
" Is it indeed you, my sister, or some evil demon who 
has taken your likeness ? " " It is I indeed, your 
Majesty," she replied. Montezuma and the exalted 
personages who accompanied him then seated them- 
selves, and a hush of expectation fell upon all as 
they were addressed by the princess in the following 
words : 

" Listen attentively to what I am about to relate to 
you. You have seen me dead, buried, and now behold 
me alive again. By the authority of our ancestors, 
my brother, I am returned from the dwellings of 
the dead to prophesy to you certain things of prime 


The King's Sister is shown the Valley of Dry Bones 

Gilbert James 




Papantzin's Story 

" At the moment after death I found myself in a 
spacious valley, which appeared to have neither com- 
mencement nor end, and was surrounded by lofty 
mountains. Near the middle I came upon a road with 
many branching paths. By the side of the valley there 
flowed a river of considerable size, the waters of which 
ran with a loud noise. By the borders of this I saw a 
young man clothed in a long robe, fastened with a 
diamond, and shining like the sun, his visage bright as 
a star. On his forehead was a sign in the figure of a 
cross. He had wings, the feathers of which gave forth 
the most wonderful and glowing reflections and colours. 
His eyes were as emeralds, and his glance was modest. 
He was fair, of beautiful aspect and imposing presence. 
He took me by the hand and said : 'Come hither. 
It is not yet time for you to cross the river. You 
possess the love of God, which is greater than you know 
or can comprehend.' He then conducted me through 
the valley, where I espied many heads and bones of 
dead men. I then beheld a number of black folk, 
horned, and with the feet of deer. They were engaged 
in building a house, which was nearly completed. 
Turning toward the east for a space, 1 beheld on the 
waters of the river a vast number of ships manned by a 
great host of men dressed differently from ourselves. 
Their eyes were of a clear grey, their complexions 
ruddy, they carried banners and ensigns in their hands 
and wore helmets on their heads. They called them- 
selves c Sons of the Sun.' The youth who conducted 
me and caused me to see all these things said that it 
was not yet the will of the gods that I should cross 
the river, but that I was to be reserved to behold the 
future with my own eyes, and to enjoy the benefits of 



the faith which these strangers brought with them ; 
that the bones I beheld on the plain were those of my 
countrymen who had died in ignorance of that faith, 
and had consequently suffered great torments ; that the 
house being builded by the black folk was an edifice pre- 
pared for those who would fall in battle with the sea- 
faring strangers whom I had seen ; and that I was 
destined to return to my compatriots to tell them of 
the true faith, and to announce to them what 1 had 
seen that they might profit thereby." 

Montezuma hearkened to these matters in silence, 
and felt greatly troubled. He left his sister's presence 
without a word, and, regaining his own apartments, 
plunged into melancholy thoughts. 

Papantzin's resurrection is one of the best authenti- 
cated incidents in Mexican history, and it is a curious 
fact that on the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores one 
of the first persons to embrace Christianity and receive 
baptism at their hands was the Princess Papan. 

Mexican Deity 
From the Vienna Codex 



The Maya 

IT was to the Maya — the people who occupied 
the territory between the isthmus of Tehuantepec 
and Nicaragua — that the civilisation of Central 
America owed most. The language they spoke was 
quite distinct from the Nahuatl spoken by the Nahua 
of Mexico, and in many respects their customs and 
habits were widely different from those of the people 
of Anahuac. It will be remembered that the latter 
were the heirs of an older civilisation, that, indeed, 
they had entered the valley of Mexico as savages, and 
that practically all they knew of the arts of culture was 
taught them by the remnants of the people whom they 
dispossessed. It was not thus with the Maya. Their 
arts and industries were of their own invention, and 
bore the stamp of an origin of considerable antiquity. 
They were, indeed, the supreme intellectual race of 
America, and on their coming into contact with the 
Nahua that people assimilated sufficient of their culture 
to raise them several grades in the scale of civilisation. 

Were the Maya Toltecs? 

It has already been stated that many antiquarians see 
in the Maya those Toltecs who because of the inroads of 
barbarous tribes quitted their native land of Anahuac 
and journeyed southward to seek a new home in Chiapas 
and Yucatan. It would be idle to attempt to uphold or 
refute such a theory in the absolute dearth of positive 
evidence for or against it. The architectural remains 
of the older race of Anahuac do not bear any striking 
likeness to Maya forms, and if the mythologies of the 
two peoples are in some particulars alike, that may well 



be accounted for by their mutual adoption of deities and 
religious customs. On the other hand, it is distinctly 
noteworthy that the cult of the god Quetzalcoatl, which 
was regarded in Mexico as of alien origin, had a con- 
siderable vogue among the Maya and their allied races. 

The Maya Kingdom 

On the arrival of the Spaniards (after the celebrated 
march of Cortes from Mexico to Central America) the 
Maya were divided into a number of subsidiary states 
which remind us somewhat of the numerous little king- 
doms of Palestine. That these had hived off from an 
original and considerably greater state there is good 
evidence to show, but internal dissension had played 
havoc with the polity of the central government of this 
empire, the disintegration of which had occurred at a 
remote period. In the semi-historical legends of this 
people we catch glimpses of a great kingdom, occasionally 
alluded to as the "Kingdom of the Great Snake," or the 
empire of Xibalba, realms which have been identified with 
the ruined city-centres of Palenque and Mitla. These 
identifications must be regarded with caution, but the 
work of excavation will doubtless sooner or later assist 
theorists in coming to conclusions which will admit of 
no doubt. The sphere of Maya civilisation and influence 
is pretty well marked, and embraces the peninsula of 
Yucatan, Chiapas, to the isthmus of Tehuantepec on the 
north, and the whole of Guatemala to the boundaries of 
the present republic of San Salvador. The true nucleus 
of Maya civilisation, however, must be looked for in 
that part of Chiapas which skirts the banks of the 
Usumacinta river and in the valleys of its tributaries. 
Here Maya art and architecture reached a height of 
splendour unknown elsewhere, and in this district, too, 

the strange Maya system of writing had its most skilful 



exponents. Although the arts and Industries of the 
several districts inhabited by people of Maya race ex- 
hibited many superficial differences, these are so small 
as to make us certain of the fact that the various areas 
inhabited by Maya stock had all drawn their inspiration 
toward civilisation from one common nucleus, and had 
equally passed through a uniform civilisation and drawn 
sap from an original culture-centre. 

The Maya Dialects 

Perhaps the most effectual method of distinguishing 
the various branches of the Maya people from one another 
consists in dividing them into linguistic groups. The 
various dialects spoken by the folk of Maya origin, 
although they exhibit some considerable difference, yet 
display strongly that affinity of construction and resem- 
blance in root which go to prove that they all emanate 
from one common mother-tongue. In Chiapas the 
Maya tongue itself is the current dialect, whilst in 
Guatemala no less than twenty- four dialects are in use, 
the principal of which are the Quiche, or Kiche, the 
Kakchiquel, the Zutugil, Coxoh Choi, and Pipil. These 
dialects and the folk who speak them are sufficient to 
engage our attention, as in them are enshrined the most 
remarkable myths and legends of the race, and by the 
men- who used them were the greatest acts in Maya 
history achieved. 

Whence Came the Maya? 

Whence came these folk, then, who raised a civilisa- 
tion by no means inferior to that of ancient Egypt, 
which, if it had had scope, would have rivalled in its 
achievements the glory of old Assyria ? We cannot tell. 
The mystery of its entrance into the land is as deep as 
the mystery of the ancient forests which now bury the 


remnants of its mighty monuments and enclose its 
temples in impenetrable gloom. Generations of anti- 
quarians have attempted to trace the origin of this race 
to Egypt, Phoenicia, China, Burma. But the manifest 
traces of indigenous American origin are present in all 
its works, and the writers who have beheld in these 
likenesses to the art of Asiatic or African peoples have 
been grievously misled by superficial resemblances which 
could not have betrayed any one who had studied Maya 
affinities deeply. 

Civilisation of the Maya 

At the risk of repetition it is essential to point out 

that civilisation, which was a newly acquired thing with 

the Nahua peoples, was not so with the Maya. They 

were indisputably an older race, possessing institutions 

which bore the marks of generations of use, whereas 

the Nahua had only too obviously just entered into 

their heritage of law and order. When we first catch 

sight of the Maya kingdoms they are in the process of 

disintegration. Such strong young blood as the virile 

folk of Anahuac possessed did not flow in the veins of 

the people of Yucatan and Guatemala. They were to 

the Nahua much as the ancient Assyrians were to the 

hosts of Israel at the entrance of the latter into national 

existence. That there was a substratum of ethnical and 

cultural relationship, however, it would be impossible to 

deny. The institutions, architecture, habits, even the 

racial cast of thought of the two peoples, bore such a 

general resemblance as to show that many affinities of 

blood and cultural relationship existed between them. 

But it will not do to insist too strongly upon these. 

It may be argued with great probability that these 

relationships and likenesses exist because of the influence 

of Maya civilisation upon Mexican alone, or from the 


inheritance by both Mexican and Maya people of a 
still older cult ure .of which we are ign orant, and the 
proofs of whiclTlie buried below the forests of Guate- 
mala or the sands of Yucatan. 

The Zapotecs 

The influence of the Maya upon the Nahua was 
a process of exceeding slowness. The peoples who 
divided them one from another were themselves bene- 
fited by carrying Maya culture into Anahuac, or rather 
it might be said that they constituted a sort of filter 
through which the southern civilisation reached the 
northern. These peoples were the Zapotecs, the Mixtecs, 
and the Kuikatecs, by far the most important of whom 
were the first-mentioned. They partook of the nature 
and civilisation of both races, and were in effect a border 
people who took from and gave to both Maya and Nahua, 
much as the Jews absorbed and disseminated the cultures 
of Egypt and Assyria. They were, however, of Nahua 
race, but their speech bears the strongest marks of 
having borrowed extensively from the Maya vocabulary. 
For many generations these people wandered in a 
nomadic condition from Maya to Nahua territory, 
thus absorbing the customs, speech, and mythology 
of each. 

The Huasteca 

But we should be wrong if we thought that the 
Maya had never attempted to expand, and had never 
sought new homes for their surplus population. That 
they had is proved by an outlying tribe of Maya, the 
Huasteca, having settled at the mouth of the Panuco 
river, on the north coast of Mexico. The presence of 
this curious ethnological island has of course given 
rise to all sorts of queer theories concerning Toltec 



relationship, whereas it simply intimates that before the 
era of Nahua expansion the Maya had attempted to 
colonise the country to the north of their territories, 
but that their efforts in this direction had been cut short 
by the influx of savage Nahua, against whom they 
found themselves unable to contend. 

The Type of Maya Civilisation 

Did the civilisation of the Maya differ, then, in type 
from that of the Nahua, or was it merely a larger 
expression of that in vogue in Anahuac ? We may 
take it that the Nahua civilisation characterised the 
culture of Central America in its youth, whilst that of 
the Maya displayed it in its bloom, and perhaps in 
its senility. The difference was neither essential nor 
radical, but may be said to have arisen for the most 
part from climatic and kindred causes. The climate of 
Anahuac is dry and temperate, that of Yucatan and 
Guatemala is tropical, and we shall find even such 
religious conceptions of the two peoples as were drawn 
from a common source varying from this very cause, 
and coloured by differences in temperature and rainfall. 

Maya History 

Before entering upon a consideration of the art, 

architecture, or mythology of this strange and highly 

interesting people it will be necessary to provide the 

reader with a brief sketch of their history. Such 

notices of this as exist in English are few, and their 

value doubtful. For the earlier history of the people 

of Maya stock we depend almost wholly upon tradition 

and architectural remains. The net result of the 

evidence wrung from these is that the Maya civilisation 

was one and homogeneous, and that all the separate 

states must have at one period passed through a uniform 


condition of culture, to which they were all equally 
debtors, and that this is sufficient ground for the belief 
that all were at one time beneath the sway of one 
central power. For the later history we possess the 
writings of the Spanish fathers, but not in such pro- 
fusion as in the case of Mexico. In fact the trust- 
worthy original authors who deal with Maya history 
can almost be counted on the fingers of one hand. We 
are further confused in perusing these, and, indeed, 
throughout the study of Maya history, by discovering 
that many of the sites of Maya cities are designated by 
Nahua names. This is due to the fact that the Spanish 
conquerors were guided in their conquest of the Maya 
territories by Nahua, who naturally applied Nahuatlac 
designations to those sites of which the Spaniards asked 
the names. These appellations clung to the places in 
question ; hence the confusion, and the blundering 
theories which would read in these place-names relics 
of Aztec conquest. 

The Nucleus of Maya Powe* 

As has been said, the nucleus of ^ Maya power and 
culture is probably to be found in that part of Chiapas 
which slopes down from the steep Cordilleras. Here 
the ruined sites of Palenque, Piedras Negras, and 
Ocosingo are eloquent of that opulence of imagination 
and loftiness of conception which go hand in hand with 
an advanced culture. The temples and palaces of this 
region bear the stamp of a dignity and consciousness 
of metropolitan power which are scarcely to be mis- 
taken, so broad, so free is their architectural conception, 
so full to overflowing the display of the desire to 
surpass. But upon the necessities of -religion and 
central organisation alone was this architectural artistry 

lavished. Its dignities were not profaned by its 



application to mere domestic uses, for, unless what were 
obviously palaces are excepted, not a single example of 
Maya domestic building has survived. This is of 
course accounted for by the circumstance that the 
people were sharply divided into the aristocratic and 
labouring classes, the first of which was closely 
identified with religion or kingship, and was housed in 
the ecclesiastical or royal buildings, whilst those of less 
exalted rank were perforce content with the shelter 
afforded by a hut built of perishable materials, the 
traces of which have long since passed away. The 
temples were, in fact, the nuclei of the towns, the 
centres round which the Maya communities were 
grouped, much in the same manner as the cities of 
Europe in the Middle Ages clustered and grew around 
the shadow of some vast cathedral or sheltering strong- 

Early Race Movements 

We shall leave the consideration of Maya tradition 
until we come to speak of Maya myth proper, and 
attempt to glean from the chaos of legend some verit- 
able facts connected with Maya history. According to 
a manuscript of Kuikatec origin recently discovered, it 
is probable that a Nahua invasion of the Maya states 
of Chiapas and Tabasco took place about the ninth 
century of our era, and we must for the present regard 
that as the starting-point of Maya history. The 
south-western portions of the Maya territory were 
agitated about the same time by race movements, which 
turned northward toward Tehuantepec, and, flowing 
through Guatemala, came to rest in Acalan, on the 
borders of Yucatan, retarded, probably, by the in- 
hospitable and waterless condition of that country. 
This Nahua invasion probably had the effect of driving 


the more peaceful Maya from their northerly settle- 
ments and forcing them farther south. Indeed, 
evidence is not wanting to show that the warlike 
Nahua pursued the pacific Maya into their new 
retreats, and for a space left them but little peace. 
This struggle it was which finally resulted in the 
breaking up of the Maya civilisation, which even at 
that relatively remote period had reached its apogee, 
its several races separating into numerous city-states, 
which bore a close political resemblance to those of 
Italy on the downfall of Rome. At this period, 
probably, began the cleavage between the Maya of 
Yucatan and those of Guatemala, which finally 
resolved itself into such differences of speech, faith, 
and architecture as almost to constitute them different 

The Settlement of Yucatan 

As the Celts of Wales and Scotland were driven into 
the less hospitable regions of their respective countries 
by the inroads of the Saxons, so was one branch of the 
Maya forced to seek shelter in the almost desert 
wastes of Yucatan. I'here can be no doubt that the 
Maya did not take to this barren and waterless land of 
their own accord. Thrifty and possessed of high 
agricultural attainments, this people would view with 
concern a removal to a sphere so forbidding after the 
rich and easily developed country they had inhabited 
for generations. But the inexorable Nahua were behind, 
and they were a peaceful folk, unused to the horrors of 
savage warfare. So, taking their courage in both 
hands, they wandered into the desert. Everything 
points to a late occupation of Yucatan by the Maya, 
and architectural effort exhibits deterioration, evidenced 
in a high con\entionality of design and excess of 


ornamentation. Evidences of Nahua influence also 
are not wanting, a fact which is eloquent of the later 
period of contact which is known to have occurred 
between the peoples, and which alone is almost 
sufficient to fix the date of the settlement of the 
Maya in Yucatan. It must not be thought that the 
Maya in Yucatan formed one homogeneous state 
recognising a central authority. On the contrary, as is 
often the case with colonists, the several Maya bands of 
immigrants formed themselves into different states or 
kingdoms, each having its own separate traditions. It 
is thus a matter of the highest difficulty to so collate 
and criticise these traditions as to construct a history of 
the Maya race in Yucatan. As may be supposed, we 
find the various city-sites founded by divine beings 
who play a more or less important part in the Maya 
pantheon. Kukulcan, for example, is the first king of 
Mayapan, whilst Itzamna figures as the founder of the 
state of Itzamal. The gods were the spiritual leaders 
of these bands of Maya, just as Jehovah was the 
spiritual leader and guide of the Israelites in the 
desert. One is therefore not surprised to find in the 
Popol Vuh y the saga of the Kiche-Maya of Guatemala, 
that the god Tohil (The Rumbler) guided them to the 
site of the first Kiche city. Some writers on the 
subject appear • to think that the incidents in such 
migration myths, especially the tutelage and guidance 
of the tribes by gods and the descriptions of desert 
scenery which they contain, suffice to stamp them as 
mere native versions of the Book of Exodus, or at the 
best myths sophisticated by missionary influence. The 
truth is that the conditions of migration undergone by 
the Maya were similar to those described in the Scrip- 
tures, and by no means merely reflect the Bible story, 
as short-sighted collators of both aver. 


The Septs of Yucatan 

The priest-kings of Mayapan, whoi claimed descent 
from Kukulcan or Quetzalcoatl, soon raised their state 
into a position of prominence among the surrounding 
cities. Those who had founded Chichen-Itza, and who 
were known as Itzaes, were, on the other hand, a caste 
of warriors who do not appear to have cherished the 
priestly function with such assiduity. The rulers of 
the Itzaes, who were known as the Tutul Xius, seem 
to have come, according to their traditions, from the 
western Maya states, perhaps from Nonohualco in 
Tabasco. Arriving from thence at the southern ex- 
tremity of Yucatan, they founded the city of Ziyan 
Caan, on Lake Bacalar, which had a period of prosperity 
for at least a couple of generations. At the expiry of 
that period for some unaccountable reason they migrated 
northward, perhaps because at that particular time the in- 
cidence of power was shifting toward Northern Yucatan, 
and took up their abode in Chichen-Itza, eventually the 
sacred city of the Maya, which they founded. 

The Cocomes] 

But they were not destined to remain undisturbed in 
their new sphere. The Cocomes of Mayapan, when at 
the height of their power, viewed with disfavour the 
settlement of the Tutul Xius. After it had flourished 
for a period of about 120 years it was overthrown by 
the Cocomes, who resolved it into a dependency, per- 
mitting the governors and a certain number of the 
people to depart elsewhere. 

Flight of the Tutul Xius! 

Thus expelled, the Tutul Xius fled southward, 
whence they had originally come, and settled in Poton- 



chan or Champoton, where they reigned for nearly 
300 years. From this new centre, with the aid of 
Nahua mercenaries, they commenced an extension of 
territory northward, and entered into diplomatic rela- 
tions with the heads of the other Maya states. It was at 
this time that they built Uxmal, and their power became 
so extensive that they reconquered the territory they 
had lost to the Cocomes. This on the whole appears 
to have been a period when the arts flourished under an 
enlightened policy, which knew how to make and keep 
friendly relations with surrounding states, and the 
splendid network of roads with which the country was 
covered and the many evidences of architectural excel- 
lence go to prove that the race had had leisure to 
achieve much in art and works of utility. Thus the 
city of Chichen-Itza was linked up with the island of 
Cozumel by a highway whereon thousands of pilgrims 
plodded to the temples of the gods of wind and 
moisture. From Itzamal, too, roads branched in every 
direction, in order that the people should have every 
facility for reaching the chief shrine of the country 
situated there. But the hand of the Cocomes was heavy 
upon the other Maya states which were tributary to 
them. As in the Yucatan of to-day, where the wretched 
henequen-picker leads the life of a veritable slave, a 
crushing system of helotage obtained. The Cocomes 
made heavy demands upon the Tutul Xius, who in their 
turn sweated the hapless folk under their sway past the 
bounds of human endurance. As in all tottering civilisa- 
tions, the feeling of responsibility among the upper 
classes became dormant, and they abandoned themselves 
to the pleasures of life without thought of the morrow. 
Morality ceased to be regarded as a virtue, and rotten- 
ness was at the core of Maya life. Discontent quickly 
spread on every hand. 


The Revolution in Mayapan 

The sequel was, naturally, revolution. Ground down 
by the tyranny of a dissolute oligarchy, the subject 
states rose in revolt. The Cocomes surrounded them- 
selves by Nahua mercenaries, who succeeded in beating 
off the first wave of revolt, led by the king or regulus of 
Uxmal, who was defeated, and whose people in their 
turn rose against him, a circumstance which ended in 
the abandonment of the city of Uxmal. Once more 
were the Tutul Xius forced to go on pilgrimage, and this 
time they founded the city of Mani, a mere shadow of 
the splendour of Uxmal and Chichen. 

Hunac Eel 

If the aristocracy of the Cocomes was composed of 
weaklings, its ruler was made of sterner stuff. Hunac 
Eel, who exercised royal sway over this people, and 
held in subjection the lesser principalities of Yucatan, 
was not only a tyrant of harsh and vindictive tempera- 
ment, but a statesman of judgment and experience, who 
courted the assistance of the neighbouring Nahua, whom 
he employed in his campaign against the new assailant 
of his absolutism, the ruler of Chichen-Itza. Muster- 
ing a mighty host of his vassals, Hunac Eel marched 
against the devoted city whose prince had dared to 
challenge his supremacy, and succeeded in inflicting a 
crushing defeat upon its inhabitants. But apparently 
the state was permitted to remain under the sovereignty 
of its native princes. The revolt, however, merely 
smouldered, and in the kingdom of Mayapan itself, the 
territory of the Cocomes, the fires of revolution began 
to blaze. This state of things continued for nearly a 
century. Then the crash came. The enemies of the 
Cocomes effected a junction. The people of Chichen- 



Itza joined hands with the Tutul Xius, who had sought 
refuge in the central highlands of Yucatan and those 
city-states which clustered around the mother-city of 
Mayapan. A fierce concerted attack was made, beneath 
which the power of the Cocomes crumpled up com- 
pletely. Not one stone was left standing upon another 
by the exasperated allies^ who thus avenged the helotage 
of nearly 300 years. To this event the date 1436 is 
assigned, but, like most dates in Maya history, con- 
siderable uncertainty must be attached co it. 

The Last of the Cocomes 

Only a remnant of the Cocomes survived. They 
had been absent in Nahua territory, attempting to raise 
fresh troops for the defence of Mayapan. These the 
victors spared, and they finally settled in Zotuta, in the 
centre of Yucatan, a region of almost impenetrable 

It would not appear that the city of Chichen-Itza, the 
prince of which was ever the head and front of the 
rebellion against the Cocomes, profited in any way from 
the fall of the suzerain power. On the contrary, tradi- 
tion has it that the town was abandoned by its inhabi- 
tants, and left to crumble into the ruinous state in 
which the Spaniards found it on their entrance into 
the country. The probability is that its people quitted 
it because of the repeated attacks made upon it by the 
Cocomes, who saw in it the chief obstacle to their 
universal sway ; and this is supported by tradition, 
which tells that a prince of Chichen-Itza, worn out 
with conflict and internecine strife, left it to seek the 
cradle of the Maya race in the land of the setting 
sun. Indeed, it is further stated that this prince 
founded the city of Peten-Itza,. on the lake of Peten, in 


The Prince who went to Found a City 
Gilbert James 




The Maya Peoples of Guatemala 

When the Maya peoples of Guatemala, the Kiches 
and the Kakchiquels, first made their way into that 
territory, they probably found there a race of Maya 
origin of a type more advanced and possessed of more 
ancient traditions than themselves. By their connection 
with this folk they greatly benefited in the direction o* 
artistic achievement as well as in the industrial arts. 
Concerning these people we have a large body of tradi- 
tion in the Popol Vuh y a native chronicle, the contents 
of which will be fully dealt with in the chapter relating 
to the Maya myths and legendary matter. We cannot 
deal with it as a veritable historical document, but there 
is little doubt that a basis of fact exists behind the 
tradition it contains. The difference between the lan- 

?uage of these people and that of their brethren in 
ucatan was, as has been said, one of dialect only, and 
a like slight distinction is found in their mythology, 
caused, doubtless, by the incidence of local conditions, 
and resulting in part from the difference between a level 
and comparatively waterless land and one of a semi- 
mountainous character covered with thick forests. We 
shall note further differences when we come to examine 
the art and architecture of the Maya race, and to compare 
those of its two most distinctive branches. 

The Maya Tulan 

It was to the city of Tulan, probably in Tabasco, that 
the Maya of Guatemala referred as being the starting- 
point of all their migrations. We must not confound 
this place with the Tollan of the Mexican traditions. It 
is possible that the name may in both cases be derived 
from a root meaning a place from which a tribe set 
forth, a starting-place, but geographical connection there 



is none. From here Nima-Kiche, the great Kiche, 
started on his migration to the mountains, accompanied 
by his three brothers. Tulan, says the Popol Vuh^ had 
been a place of misfortune to man, for he had suffered 
much from cold and hunger, and, as at the building 
of Babel, his speech was so confounded that the first 
four Kiches and their wives were unable to comprehend 
one another. Of course this is a native myth created to 
account for the difference in dialect between the various 
branches of the Maya folk, and can scarcely have any 
foundation in fact, as the change in dialect would be a 
very gradual process. The brothers, we are told, 
divided the land so that one received the districts of 
Mames and Pocomams, another Verapaz, and the third 
Chiapas, while Nima-Kiche obtained the country of the 
Kiches, Kakchiquels, and Tzutuhils. It would be ex- 
tremely difficult to say whether or not this tradition 
rests on any veritable historical basis. If so, it refers 
to a period anterior to the Nahua irruption, for the dis- 
tricts alluded to as occupied by these tribes were not so 
divided among them at the coming of the Spaniards. 

Doubtful Dynasties 

As with the earlier dynasties of Egypt, consider- 
able doubt surrounds the history of the early Kiche 
monarchs. Indeed, a period of such uncertainty 
occurs that even the number of kings who reigned is 
lost in the hopeless confusion of varying estimates. 
From this chaos emerge the facts that the Kiche 
monarchs held the supreme power among the peoples 
of Guatemala, that they were the contemporaries of the 
rulers of Mexico city, and that they were often elected 
from among the princes of the subject states. Acxopil, 
the successor of Nima-Kiche, invested his second son 

with the government of the Kakchiquels, and placed his 


youngest son over the Tzutuhils, whilst to his eldest 
son he left the throne of the Kiches. Icutemal, his 
eldest son, on succeeding his father, gifted the kingdom of 
Kakchiquel to his eldest son, displacing his own brother 
and thus mortally affronting him. The struggle which 
ensued lasted for generations, embittered the relations 
between these two branches of the Maya in Guatemala, 
and undermined their joint strength. Nahua mer- 
cenaries were employed in the struggle on both sides, 
and these introduced many of the uglinesses of Nahua 
life into Maya existence. 

The Coming of the Spaniards 

This condition of things lasted up to the time of the 
coming of the Spaniards. The Kakchiquels dated the 
commencement of a new chronology from the episode of 
the defeat of Cay Hun-Apu by them in 1492. They 
may have saved themselves the trouble ; for the time 
was at hand when the calendars of their race were to be 
closed, and its records written in another script by 
another people. One by one, and chiefly by reason of 
their insane policy of allying themselves with the invader 
against their own kin, the old kingdoms of Guatemala fell 
as spoil to the daring Conquistadores, and their people 
passed beneath the yoke of Spain — bondsmen who were 
to beget countless generations of slaves. 

The Riddle of Ancient Maya Writing 

What may possibly be the most valuable sources of 
Maya history are, alas ! sealed to us at present. We 
allude to the native Maya manuscripts and inscriptions, 
the writing of which cannot be deciphered by present-day 
scholars. Some of the old Spanish friars who lived in 
the times which directly succeeded the settlement of 
the country by the white man were able to read and 



even to write this script, but unfortunately they regarded 
it either as an invention of the Father of Evil or, as it 
was a native system, as a thing of no value. In a few 
generations all knowledge of how to decipher it was 
totally lost, and it remains to the modern world almost 
as a sealed book, although science has lavished all its 
wonderful machinery of logic and deduction upon it, 
and men of unquestioned ability have dedicated their 
lives to the problem of unravelling what must be 
regarded as one of the greatest and most mysterious 
riddles of which mankind ever attempted the solution. 
The romance of the discovery of the key to the 
Egyptian hieroglyphic system of writing is well known. 
For centuries the symbols displayed upon the temples 
and monuments of the Nile country were so many 
meaningless pictures and signs to the learned folk of 
Europe, until the discovery of the Rosetta stone a 
hundred years ago made their elucidation possible. 
This stone bore the same inscription in Greek, demotic, 
and hieroglyphics, and so the discovery of the " alpha- 
bet " of the hidden script became a comparatively easy 
task. But Central America has no Rosetta stone, nor 
is it possible that such an aid to research can ever be 
found. Indeed, such " keys " as have been discovered 
or brought forward by scientists have proved for the 
most part unavailing^ 

The Maya Manuscripts 

The principal Maya manuscripts which have escaped 
the ravages of time are the codice* in the libraries of 
Dresden, Paris, and Madrid. These are known as the 
Codex Perezianus, preserved in the Bibliotheque 
Nationale at Paris, the Dresden Codex, long regarded 
as an Aztec manuscript, and the Troano Codex, so called 
from one of its owners, Seilor Tro y Ortolano, found at 






















































Madrid in 1865. These manuscripts deal principally 
with Maya mythology, but as they cannot be deci- 
phered with any degree of accuracy they do not greatly 
assist our knowledge of the subject. 

The System of the Writing 

The " Tablet of the Cross " gives a good idea of 
the general appearance of the writing system of the 
ancient peoples of Central America. The style varies 
somewhat in most of the manuscripts and inscriptions, 
but it is generally admitted that all of the systems 
employed sprang originally from one common source. 
The square figures which appear as a tangle of faces 
and objects are said to be " calculiform," or pebble- 
shaped, a not inappropriate description, and it is known 
from ancient Spanish manuscripts that they were read 
from top to bottom, and two columns at a time. The 
Maya tongue, like all native American languages, wa s 
one which, in order to exp ress an idea, gath ered a 
whole phrase into a single word, and it has been^tRought 
that the "S eve r al symbols "oT~part s""Th each squa re or 
sjcetdigoto make up suchacomppjondexpression. 

The firstTcey (so caDedyTcTtriehieroglyphs of Central 
America was that of Bishop Landa, who about 1575 
attempted to set down the Maya alphabet from native 
sources. He was highly unpopular with the natives, 
whose literary treasures he had almost completely 
destroyed, and who in revenge deliberately misled him 
as to the true significance of the various symbols. 

The first real step toward reading the Maya writing 
was made in 1876 by L6on de Rosny, a French student 
of American antiquities, who succeeded in interpreting 
the signs which denote the four cardinal points. As 
has been the case in so many discoveries of import- 
ance, the significance of these signs was simultaneously 

L l6l 


discovered by Professor Cyrus Thomas in America. In 
two of these four signs was found the symbol which 
meant "sun," almost, as de Rosny acknowledged, as a 
matter of course. However, the Maya word for " sun - 
{kin) also denotes "day," and it was later proved that 
this sign was also used with the latter meaning. The 
discovery of the sign stimulated further research to a 
great degree, and from the material now at their disposal 
Drs. FOrstemann and Schellhas of Berlin were success- 
ful in discovering the sign for the moon and that for 
the Maya month of twenty days. 

Clever Elucidations 

In 1887 ^ n Seler discovered the sign for night 
(akbal), and in 1894 Fftrstemann unriddled the symbols 
for "beginning" and "end." These are two heads, 
the first of which has the sign akbal y just mentioned, for 
an eye. Now akbal means, as well as "night," "the 
beginning of the month," and below the face which 
contains it can be seen footsteps, or spots which resemble 
their outline, signifying a forward movement. The 
sign in the second head means "seventh," which in 
Maya also signifies "the end." From the frequent 
contrast of these terms there can be little doubt that 
their meaning is as stated. 

" Union " is denoted by the sting of a rattlesnake, 
the coils of that reptile signifying to the Maya the 
idea of tying together. In contrast to this sign is the 
figure next to it, which represents a knife, and means 
" division " or "cutting." An important "letter" is 
the hand, which often occurs in both manuscripts and 
inscriptions. It is drawn sometimes in the act of 
grasping, with the thumb bent forward, and some- 
times as pointing in a certain direction. The first 

seems to denote a tying together or joining, like the 
1 6a 


rattlesnake symbol, and the second FCrstemann believes 
to represent a lapse of time. That it may represent 
futurity occurs as a more likely conjecture to the present 

The figure denoting the spring equinox was traced 
because of its obvious representation of a cloud from 
which three streams of water are falling upon the 
earth. The square at the top represents heaven. 
The obsidian knife underneath denotes a division 
or period of time cut off, as it were, from other 
periods of the year. That the sign means " spring " is 
verified by its position among the other signs of the 

The sign for " week " was discovered by reason of 
its almost constant accompaniment of the sign for the 
number thirteen, the number of days in the Maya 
sacred week. The symbol of the bird's feather 
indicates the plural, and when affixed to certain signs 
signifies that the object indicated is multiplied. A 
bird's feather, when one thinks of it, is one of the 
most fitting symbols provided by nature to designate 
the plural, if the number of shoots on both sides of the 
stem are taken as meaning " many" or " two." 

Water is depicted by the figure of a serpent, 

which reptile typifies the undulating nature of the 

element. The sign entitled "the sacrificial victim" 

is of deep human interest. The first portion of 

the symbol is the death-bird, and the second shows a 

crouching and beaten captive, ready to be immolated 

to one of the terrible Maya deities whose sanguinary 

religion demanded human sacrifice. The drawing 

which means " the day of the new year," in the 

month Ceh, was unriddled by the following means : 

The sign in the upper left-hand corner denotes the 

word "sun" or "day," that in the upper right-hand 



corner is the sign for "year." In the lower right-hand 
corner is the sign for " division," and in the lower left- 
hand the sign for the Maya month Ceh, already known 
from the native calendars. 

From its accompaniment of a figure known to be a 
deity of the four cardinal points, whence all American 
tribes believed the wind to come, the symbol entitled 
" wind " has been determined. 

Methods of Study 

The method employed by those engaged in the 
elucidation of these hieroglyphs is typical of modern 
science. The various signs and symbols are literally 
"worn out" by a process of indefatigable examination. 
For hours the student sits staring at a symbol, drinking 
in every detail, however infinitesimal, until the drawing 
and all its parts are wholly and separately photographed 
upon the tablets of his memory. He then compares 
the several portions of the symbol with similar portions 
in other signs the value of which is known. From 
these he may obtain a clue to the meaning of the 
whole. Thus proceeding from the known to the 
unknown, he advances logically toward a complete 
elucidation of all the hieroglyphs depicted in the 
various manuscripts and inscriptions. 

The method by which Dr. Seler discovered the 
hieroglyphs or symbols relating to the various gods 
of the Maya was both simple and ingenious. He says : 
" The way in which this was accomplished is strikingly 
simple. It amounts essentially to that which in ordinary 
life we call c memory of persons,* and follows almost 
naturally from a careful study of the manuscripts. For, 
by frequently looking tentatively at the representations, 
one learns by degrees to recognise promptly similar and 
familiar figures of gods by the characteristic impression 


they make as a whole or by certain details, and the 
same is true of the accompanying hieroglyphs." 

The Maya Numeral System 

If Bishop Landa was badly hoaxed regarding the 
alphabet of the Maya, he was successful in discovering 
and handing down their numeral system, which was on 
a very much higher basis than that of many civilised 
peoples, being, for example, more practical and more 
fully evolved than that of ancient Rome. This system 
employed four signs altogether, the point for unity, a 
horizontal stroke for the number 5, and two signs for 
20 and o. Yet from these simple elements the Maya 
produced a method of computation which is perhaps 
as ingenious as anything which has ever been accom- 
plished in the history of mathematics. In the Maya 
arithmetical system, as in ours, it is the position of the 
sign that gives it its value. The figures were placed in 
a vertical line, and one of them was employed as a 
decimal multiplier. The lowest figure of the column 
had the arithmetical value which it represented. The 
figures which appeared in the second, fourth, and each 
following place had twenty times the value of the pre- 
ceding figures, while figures in the third place had 
eighteen times the value of those in the second place. 
This system admits of computation up to millions, and 
is one of the surest signs of Maya culture. 

Much controversy has raged round the exact nature 
of the Maya hieroglyphs. Were they understood by 
the Indians themselves as representing ideas or merely 
pictures, or did they convey a given sound to the 
reader, as does our alphabet ? To some extent con- 
troversy upon the point is futile, as those of the 
Spanish clergy who were able to learn the writing 
from the native Maya have confirmed its phonetic 



character, so that in reality each symbol must have 
conveyed a sound or sounds to the reader, not merely 
an idea or a picture. Recent research has amply proved 
this, so that the full elucidation of the long and painful 
puzzle on which so much learning and patience have 
been lavished may perhaps be at hand. 

Mythology of the Maya 

The Maya pantheon, although it bears a strong 

resemblance to that of the Nahua, differs from it in so 

many respects that it is easy to observe that at one 

period it must have been absolutely free from all 

Nahua influence. We may, then, provisionally accept 

the theory that at some relatively distant period the 

mythologies of the Nahua and Maya were influenced 

from one common centre, if they were not originally 

identical, but that later the inclusion in the cognate but 

divided systems of local deities and the superimposition 

of the deities and rites of immigrant peoples had caused 

such differentiation as to render somewhat vague the 

original likeness between them. In the Mexican 

mythology we have as a key-note the custom of human 

sacrifice. It has often been stated as exhibiting the 

superior status in civilisation of the Maya that their 

religion was free from the revolting practices which 

characterised the Nahua faith. This, however, is 

totally erroneous. Although the Maya were not 

nearly so prone to the practice of human sacrifice as 

were the Nahua, they frequently engaged in it, and the 

pictures which have been drawn of their bloodless 

offerings must not lead us to believe that they never 

indulged in this rite. It is known, for example, that 

they sacrificed maidens to the water-god at the period 

of the spring florescence, by casting them into a deep 

pool, where they were drowned. 



t— ( 


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t— < 















(J =Q 






* *s. 




' *S1 















Quetzalcoatl among the Maya 

One of the most obvious of the mythological rela- 
tionships between the Maya and Nahua is exhibited 
in the Maya cult of the god Quetzalcoatl. It seems to 
have been a general belief in Mexico that Quetzalcoatl 
was a god foreign to the soil ; or at least relatively 
aboriginal to his rival Tezcatlipoca, if not to the Nahua 
themselves. It is amusing to see it stated by autho- 
rities of the highest standing that his worship was free 
from bloodshed. But it does not appear whether the 
sanguinary rites connected with the name of Quetzal- 
coatl in Mexico were undertaken by his priests of their 
own accord or at the instigation and pressure of the 
pontiff of Huitzilopochtli, under whose jurisdiction 
they were. The designation by which Quetzalcoatl 
was known to the Maya was Kukulcan, which signifies 
"Feathered Serpent/' and is exactly translated by his 
Mexican name. In Guatemala he was called Gucumatz, 
which word is also identical in Kiche with his other 
native appellations. But the Kukulcan of the Maya 
appears to be dissimilar from Quetzalcoatl in several 
of his attributes. The difference in climate would 
probably account for most of these. In Mexico Quetzal- 
coatl, as we have seen, was not only the Man of the 
Sun, but the original wind-god of the country. The 
Kukulcan of the Maya has more the attributes of a 
thunder-god. In the tropical climate of Yucatan and 
Guatemala the sun at midday appears to draw the clouds 
around it in serpentine shapes. From these emanate 
thunder and lightning and the fertilising rain, so that 
Kukulcan would appear to have appealed to the Maya 
more as a god of the sky who wielded the thunderbolts 
than a god of the atmosphere proper like Quetzalcoatl, 
though several of the stelae in Yucatan represent 



Kukulcan as he is portrayed in Mexico, with wind 
issuing from his mouth. 

An Alphabet of Gods 

The principal sources of our knowledge of the Maya 
deities are the Dresden, Madrid, and Paris codices 
alluded to previously, all of which contain many 
pictorial representations of the various members of the 
Maya pantheon. Of the very names of some of these 
gods we are so ignorant, and so difficult is the process 
of affixing to them the traditional names which are 
left to us as those of the Maya gods, that Dr. Paul 
Schellhas, a German student of Maya antiquities, has pro- 
posed that the figures of deities appearing in the Maya 
codices or manuscripts should be provisionally indicated 
by the letters of the alphabet. The figures of gods 
which thus occur are fifteen in number, and therefore 
take the letters of the alphabet from A to P, the letter 
J being omitted. 

Difficulties of Comparison 

Unluckily the accounts of Spanish authors concerning 
Maya mythology do not agree with the representations 
of the gods delineated in the codices. That the three 
codices have a mythology in common is certain. Again, 
great difficulty is found in comparing the deities of the 
codices with those represented by the carved and stucco 
bas-reliefs of the Maya region. It will thus be seen 
that very considerable difficulties beset the student in 
this mythological sphere. So few data have yet been 
collected regarding the Maya mythology that to dog- 
matise upon any subject connected with it would indeed 
be rash. But much has been accomplished in the past 
few decades, and evidence is slowly but surely accumu- 
lating from which sound conclusions can be drawn. 


The Conflict between Light and Darkness 

We witness in the Maya mythology a dualism 
almost as complete as that of ancient Persia — the con- 
flict between light and darkness. Opposing each other 
we behold on the one hand the deities of the sun, the 
gods of warmth and light, of civilisation and the joy of 
life, and on the other the deities of darksome death, of 
night, gloom, and fear. From these primal conceptions 
of light and darkness all the mythologic forms of the 
Maya are evolved. When we catch the first recorded 
glimpses of Maya belief we recognise that at the period 
when it came under the purview of Europeans the gods 
of darkness were in the ascendant and a deep pessimism 
had spread over Maya thought and theology. Its 
joyful side was subordinated to the worship of gloomy 
beings, the deities of death and hell, and if the cult of 
light was attended with such touching fidelity it was 
because the benign agencies who were worshipped 
in connection with it had promised not to desert man- 
kind altogether, but to return at some future in- 
definite period and resume their sway of radiance and 

The Calendar 

Like that of the Nahua, the Maya mythology was 
based almost entirely upon the calendar, which in its , 
astronomic significance and duration was identical with 
that of the Mexicans. The ritual year of twenty 
" weeks " of thirteen days each was divided into four 

auarters, each of these being under the auspices of a 
ifTerent quarter of the heavens. Each " week " was 
under the supervision of a particular deity, as will be 
seen when we come to deal separately with the various 



Traditional Knowledge of the Gods 

The heavenly bodies had important representation 
in the Maya pantheon. In Yucatan the sun-god was 
known as Kinich-ahau (Lord of the Face of the Sun). 
He was identified with the Fire-bird, or Arara, and was 
thus called Kinich-Kakmo (Fire-bird ; lit. Sun-bird). 
He was also the presiding genius of the north. 

Itzamna, one of the most important of the Maya 
deities, was a moon-god, the father of gods and men. 
In him was typified the decay and recurrence of life in 
nature. His name was derived from the words he was 
supposed to have given to men regarding himself: " Itz 
en caan, itz en muyal ' (" 1 am the dew of the heaven, 
I am the dew of the clouds "). He was tutelar deity of 
the west. 

Chac, the rain-god, is the possessor of an elongated 
nose, not unlike the proboscis of a tapir, which of 
course is the spout whence comes the rain which he 
blows over the earth. He is one of the best repre- 
sented gods on both manuscripts and monuments, and 
presides over the east. The black god Ekchuah was 
the god of merchants and cacao-planters. He is repre- 
sented in the manuscripts several times. 

Ix ch'el was the goddess of medicine, and Ix chebel 
yax was identified by the priest Hernandez with the 
Virgin Mary. There were also several deities, or 
rather genii, called Bacabs, who were the upholders of 
the heavens in the four quarters of the sky. The 
names of these were Kan, Muluc, Ix, and Cauac, 
representing the east, north, west, and south. Their 
symbolic colours were yellow, white, black, and red 
respectively. They corresponded in some degree to 
the four variants of the Mexican rain-god Tlaloc, foi 
many of the American races believed that rain, the 


fertiliser of the soil, emanated from the four points of the 
compass. We shall find still other deities when we come 
to discuss the Popol Vuh^ the saga-book of the Kiche, 
but it is difficult to say how far these were connected 
with the deities of the Maya of Yucatan, concerning 
whom we have little traditional knowledge, and it is 
better to deal with them separately, pointing out 
resemblances where these appear to exist. 

Maya Polytheism 

On the whole the Maya do not seem to have been 
burdened with an extensive pantheon, as were the 
Nahua, and their polytheism appears to have been of a 
limited character. Although they possessed a number 
of divinities, these were in a great measure only 
different forms of one and the same divine power — 
probably localised forms of it. The various Maya 
tribes worshipped similar gods under different names. 
They recognised divine unity in the god Hunabku, who 
was invisible and supreme, but he does not bulk largely 
in their mythology, any more than does the universal 
All-Father in other early faiths. The sun is the great 
deity in Maya religion, and the myths which tell of the 
origin of the Maya people are purely solar. As the sun 
comes from the east, so the hero-gods who bring with 
them culture and enlightenment have an oriental origin. 
As Votan, as Kabil, the " Red Hand " who initiates the 
people into the arts of writing and architecture, these 
gods are civilising men of the sun as surely as is 

The Bat-God 

A sinister figure, the prince of the Maya legions of 
darkness, is the bat-god, Zotzilaha Chimalman, who 
dwelt in the " House of Bats," a gruesome cavern on 



the way to the abodes of darkness and death. He is 
undoubtedly a relic of cave-worship pure and simple. 
"The Maya," says an old chronicler, "have an im- 
moderate fear of death, and they seem to have given it 
a figure peculiarly repulsivc. ,, We shall find this deity 
alluded to in the Popol Vuh y under the name Camazotz, 
in close proximity to the Lords of Death and Hell, 
attempting to bar the journey of the hero-gods across 
these dreary realms. He is frequently met with on the 
Copan reliefs, and a Maya clan, the Ah-zotzils, were 
called by his name. They were of Kakchiquel origin, 
and he was probably their totem. 

Modern Research 

We must now turn to the question of what modern 
research has done to elucidate the character of the 
various Maya deities. We have already seen that they 
have been provisionally named by the letters of the 
alphabet until such proof is forthcoming as will identify 
them with the traditional gods of the Maya, and we 
will now briefly examine what is known concerning 
them under their temporary designations. 

God A 

In the Dresden and other codices god A is repre- 
sented as a figure with exposed vertebrae and skull-like 
countenance, with the marks of corruption on his body, 
and displaying every sign of mortality. On his head 
he wears a snail-symbol, the Aztec sign of birth, perhaps 
to typify the connection between birth and death. He 
also wears a pair of cross-bones. The hieroglyph which 
accompanies his figure represents a corpse's head with 
closed eyes, a skull, and a sacrificial knife. His symbol 
is that for the calendar day Cimi, which means death. 

He presides over the west, the home of the dead, the 





The House of Bats 
Gilbert James 




region toward which they invariably depart with the 
setting sun. That he is a death-god there can be no 
doubt, but of his name we are ignorant. He is prob- 
ably identical with the Aztec god of death and hell, 
Mictlan, and is perhaps one of those Lords of Death 
and Hell who invite the heroes to the celebrated game 
of ball in the Kiche Popol Vuh^ and hold them prisoners 
in their gloomy realm. 

God B is the deity who appears most frequently in 
the manuscripts. He has a long, truncated nose, like 
that of a tapir, and we find in him every sign of a god 
of the elements. He walks the waters, wields fiery 
torches, and seats himself on the cruciform tree of the 
four winds which appears so frequently in American 
myth. He is evidently a culture-god or hero, as he is 
seen planting maize, carrying tools, and going on a 
journey, a fact which establishes his solar connection. 
He is, in fact, Kukulcan or Quetzalcoatl, and on examin- 
ing him we feel that at least there can be no doubt 
concerning his identity. 

Concerning god C matter is lacking, but he is evidently 
a god of the pole-star, as in one of the codices he is 
surrounded by planetary signs and wears a nimbus 
of rays. 

God D is almost certainly a moon-god. He is 
represented as an aged man, with sunken cheeks and 
wrinkled forehead on which hangs the sign for night. 
His hieroglyph is surrounded by dots, to represent a 
starry sky, and is followed by the number 20, to show 
the duration of the moon. Like most moon deities 
he is connected with birth, for occasionally he wears 
the snail, symbol of parturition, on his head. It is 
probable that he is Itzamna, one of the greatest of 
Maya gcds, who was regarded as the universal life-giver, 
and was probably of very ancient origin. 



The Maize-God 

God E is another deity whom we have no difficulty 
in identifying. He wears the leafed ear of maize as his 
head-dress. In fact, his head has been evolved out of 
the conventional drawings of the ear of maize, so we 
may say at once without any difficulty that he is a 
maize-god pure and simple, and a parallel with the 
Aztec maize-god Centeotl. Brinton calls this god 
Ghanan, and Schellhas thinks he may be identical with 
a deity Yum Kaax, whose name means "Lord of the 
Harvest Fields." 

A close resemblance can be noticed between gods 
F and A, and it is thought that the latter resembles 
the Aztec Xipe, the god of human sacrifice. He is 
adorned with the same black lines running over the 
face and body, typifying gaping death-wounds. 

The Sun'God 

In G we may be sure that we have found a sun-god 
par excellence. His hieroglyph is the sun-sign, kin. 
But we must be careful not to confound him with deities 
like Quetzalcoatl or Kukulcan. He is, like the Mexican 
Totec, the sun itself, and not the IV an of the Sun, the 
civilising agent, who leaves his bright abode to dwell 
with man and introduce him to the arts of cultured 
existence. He is the luminary himself, whose only 
acceptable food is human blood, and who must be fed 
full with this terrible fare or perish, dragging the world 
of men with him into a fathomless abyss of gloom. We 
need not be surprised, therefore, to see god G occa- 
sionally wearing the symbols of death. 

God H would seem to have some relationship to the 
serpent, but what it may be is obscure, and no certain 
identification can be made. 


I is a water-goddess, an old woman with wrinkled 
hrown body and claw-like feet, wearing on her head a 
grisly snake twisted into a knot, to typify the serpent- 
like nature of water. She holds in her hands an earthen- 
ware pot from which water flows. We cannot sav that 
she resembles the Mexican water-goddess, ChaL hihuit- 
licue, wife of Tlaloc, who was in most respects a deity 
of a beneficent character. I seems a personification of 
water in its more dreadful aspect of floods and water- 
spouts, as it must inevitably have appeared to the people 
of the more torrid regions of Central America, and that 
she was regarded as an agent of death is shown from her 
occasionally wearing the cross-bones of the death-god. 

"The God with the Ornamented Nose" 

God K is scientifically known as " the god with the 
ornamented nose,'* and is probably closely related to god 
B. Concerning him no two authorities are at one, some 
regarding him as a storm-god, whose proboscis, like that 
of Kukulcan, is intended to represent the blast of the 
tempest. But we observe certain stellar signs in con- 
nection with K which would go to prove that he is, in- 
deed, one of the Quetzalcoatl group. His features are 
constantly to be met with on the gateways and corners 
of the ruined shrines of Central America, and have led 
many " antiquarians " to believe in the existence of an 
elephant-headed god, whereas his trunk-like snout is 
merely a funnel through which he emitted the gales 
over which he had dominion, as a careful study of the 
pinturas shows, the wind being depicted issuing from 
the snout in question. At the same time, the snout may 
have been modelled on that of the tapir. " If the rain- 
god Chac is distinguished in the Maya manuscript by a 
peculiarly long nose curving over the mouth, and if in the 
other forms of the rain-god, to which, as it seems, the 



name of Balon Zacab belongs, the nose widens out and 
sends out shoots, I believe that the tapir which was 
employed identically with Chac, the Maya rain-god, 
furnished the model," says Dr. Seler. Is K, then, the 
same as Chac ? Chac bears every sign of affinity with 
the Mexican rain-god Tlaloc, whose face was evolved 
from the coils of two snakes, and also some resemblance 
to the snouted features of B and K. But, again, the 
Mexican pictures of Quetzalcoatl are not at all like 
those of Tlaloc, so that there can be no affinity between 
Tlaloc and K. Therefore if the Mexican Tlaloc and 
the Maya Chac be identical, and Tlaloc differs from 
Quetzalcoatl, who in turn is identical with B and K, it 
is clear that Chac has nothing to do with K. 

The Old Black God 

God L Dr. Schellhas has designated "the Old Black 
God," from the circumstance that he is depicted as an 
old man with sunken face and toothless gums, the 
upper, or sometimes the lower, part of his features being 
covered with black paint. He is represented in the 
Dresden MS. only. Professor Cyrus Thomas, of New 
York, thinks that he is the god Ekchuah, who is tradi- 
tionally described as black, but Schellhas fits this desig- 
nation to god M. The more probable theory is that of 
Forstemann, who sees in L the god Votan, who is 
identical with the Aitec earth-god, Tepeyollotl. Both 
deities have similar face markings, and their dark hue 
is perhaps symbolical of the subterranean places where 
they were supposed to dwell. 

The Travellers' God 

God M is a veritable black god, with reddish lips. 

On his head he bears a roped package resembling the 

loads carried by the Maya porter class, and he is found 


in violent opposition with F, the enemy of all who 
wander into the unknown wastes. A god of this de- 
scription has been handed down by tradition under the 
name of Ekchuah, and his blackness is probably sym- 
bolical of the black or deeply bronzed skin of the porter 
class among the natives of Central America, who are 
constantly exposed to the sun. He would appear to 
be a parallel to the Aztec Yacatecutli, god of travelling 
merchants or chapmen. 

The God of Unlucky Days 

God N is identified by Schellhas with the demon 
Uayayab, who presided over the five unlucky days which 
it will be recollected came at the end of the Mexican 
and Maya year. He was known to the Maya as " He 
by whom the year is poisoned." After modelling his 
image in clay they carried it out of their villages, so that 
his baneful influence might not dwell therein. 

Goddess O is represented as an old woman engaged 
in the avocation of spinning, and is probably a goddess 
of the domestic virtues, the tutelar of married females. 

The Frog'God 

God P is shown with the body and fins of a frog 

on a blue background, evidently intended to represent 

water. Like all other frog-gods he is, of course, a deity 

of water, probably in its agricultural significance. We 

find him sowing seed and making furrows, and when we 

remember the important part played by frog deities in 

the agriculture of Anahuac we should have no difficulty 

in classing him with these. Seler asserts his identity 

with Kukulcan, but no reason except the circumstance 

of his being a rain-god can be advanced to establish the 

identity. He wears the year-sign on his head, p r ooably 

with a seasonal reference. 

m 177 


Maya Architecture 

It was in the wonderful architectural system which it 
developed without outside aid that the Maya people 
most individually expressed itself. As has been said, 
those buildings which still remain, and which have 
excited the admiration of generations of archaeologists, 
are principally confined to examples of ecclesiastical 
and governmental architecture, the dwellings of the 
common people consisting merely of the flimsiest of 
wattle-and-daub structures, which would fall to pieces 
shortly after they were abandoned. 

Buried in dense forests or mouldering on the sun- 
exposed plains of Yucatan, Honduras, and Guatemala, 
the cities which boasted these edifices are for the most 
part situated away from modern trade routes, and are 
not a little difficult to come at. It is in Yucatan, the 
old home of the Cocomes and Tutul Xius, that the 
most perfect specimens of Maya architecture are to be 
found, especially as regards its later development, and 
here, too, it may be witnessed in its decadent phase. 

Methods of Building 

The Maya buildings were almost always erected 
upon a mound or ku> either natural or artificial, 
generally the latter. In this we discover affinities 
with the Mexican tcocalli type. Often these kus stood 
alone, without any superincumbent building save a 
small altar to prove their relation to the temple type 
of Anahuac. The typical Maya temple was built on a 
series of earth terraces arranged in exact parallel order, 
the buildings themselves forming the sides of a square. 
The mounds are generally concealed by plaster or faced 
with stone, the variety employed being usually a hard 
sandstone, of which the Maya had a good supply in 



the quarries of Chiapas and Honduras. Moderate in 
weight, the difficulty of transport was easily overcome, 
whilst large blocks could be readily quarried. It will thus 
be seen that the Maya had no substantial difficulties 
to surmount in connection with building the large 
edifices and temples they raised, except, perhaps, the 
lack of metal tools to shape and carve and quarry the 
stone which they used. And although they exhibit 
considerable ingenuity in such architectural methods as 
they employed, they were still surprisingly ignorant 
of some of the first essentials and principles of the 

No Knowledge of the Arch 

For example, they were totally ignorant of the 
principles upon which the arch is constructed. This 
difficulty they overcame by making each course of 
masonry overhang the one beneath it, after the method 
employed by a boy with a box of bricks, who finds 
that he can only make " doorways " by this means, 
or by the simple expedient — also employed by 
the Maya — of placing a slab horizontally upon two 
upright pillars. In consequence it will readily be 
seen that the superimposition of a second story upon 
such an insecure foundation was scarcely to be thought 
of, and that such support for the roof as towered 
above the doorway would necessarily require to be of 
the most substantial description. Indeed, this portion 
of the building often appears to be more than half 
the size of the rest of the edifice. This space gave 
the Maya builders a splendid chance for mural decora- 
tion, and it must be said they readily seized it and 
made the most of it, ornamental facades being perhaps 
the most typical features in the relics of Maya archi- 



Pyramidal Structures 

But the Maya possessed another type of building 
which permitted of their raising more than one story. 
This was the pyramidal type, of which many examples 
remain. The first story was built in the usual manner, 
ind the second was raised by increasing the height of 
the mound at the back of the building until it was 
upon a level with the roof — another device well known 
to the boy with the box of bricks. In the centre of 
the space thus made another story could be erected, 
which was entered by a staircase outside the building. 
Hampered by their inability to build to any appreciable 
height, the Maya architects made up for the deficiency 
by constructing edifices of considerable length and 
breadth, the squat appearance of which is counter- 
balanced by the beautiful mural decoration of the sides 
and facade. 

Definiteness of Design 

He would be a merely superficial observer who 
would form the conclusion that these specimens of an 
architecture spontaneously evolved were put together 
without survey, design, or previous calculation. That 
as much thought entered into their construction as is 
lavished upon his work by a modern architect is proved 
by the manner in which the carved stones fit into one 
another. It would be absurd to suppose that these 
tremendous facades bristling with scores of intricate 
designs could have been first placed in position and 
subsequently laden with the bas-reliefs they exhibit. 
It is plain that they were previously worked apart and 
separately from one entire design. Thus we see that 
the highest capabilities of the architect were essential in 
a measure to the erection of these imposing structures. 
1 80 


Architectural Districts 

Although the mason-craft of the Maya peoples was 
essentially similar in all the regions populated by its 
various tribes and offshoots, there existed in the several 
localities occupied by them certain differences in con- 
struction and ornamentation which would almost justify 
us in dividing them into separate architectural spheres. 
In Chiapas, for example, we find the bas-relief pre- 
dominant, whether in stone or stucco. In Honduras 
we find a stiffness of design which implies an older 
type of architecture, along with caryatides and memorial 
pillars of human shape. In Guatemala, again, we find 
traces of the employment of wood. As the civilisation 
of the Maya cannot be well comprehended without 
some knowledge of their architecture, and as that art 
was unquestionably their national forte and the thing 
which most sharply distinguished them from the semi- 
savage peoples that surrounded them, it will be well 
to consider it for a space as regards its better-known 
individual examples. 

Fascination of the Subject 

He would indeed be dull of imagination and of spirit 
who could enter into the consideration of such a sub- 
ject as this without experiencing some thrill from the 
mystery which surroundj it. Although familiarised 
with the study of the Maya antiquities by reason of many 
years of close acquaintance with it, the author can- 
not approach the theme without a feeling of the most 
intense awe. We are considering the memorials of 
a race isolated for countless thousands of years from 
the rest of humanity — a race which by itself evolved 
a civilisation in every respect capable of comparison 

with those of ancient Egypt or Assyria. In these 



impenetrable forests and sun-baked plains mighty works 
were raised which tell of a culture of a lofty type. We 
are aware that the people who reared them entered into 
religious and perhaps philosophical considerations their 
interpretations of which place them upon a level with the 
most enlightened races of antiquity ; but we have only 
stepped upon the margin of Maya history. What dread 
secrets, what scenes of orgic splendour have those carven 
walls witnessed ? What solemn priestly conclave, what 
magnificence of rite, what marvels of initiation, have 
these forest temples known ? These things we shall 
never learn. They are hidden from us in a gloom as 
palpable as that of the tree-encircled depths in which we 
find these shattered works of a once powerful hierarchy. 

Mysterious Palenque 

One of the most famous of these ancient centres of 
priestly domination is Palenque, situated in the modern 
state of Chiapas. This city was first brought into 
notice by Don Jos6 Calderon in 1774, when he dis- 
covered no less than eighteen palaces, twenty great 
buildings, and a hundred and sixty houses, which 
proves that in his day the primeval forest had not made 
such inroads upon the remaining buildings as it has 
during the past few generations. There is good 
evidence besides this that Palenque was standing at 
the time of Cortes* conquest of Yucatan. And here it 
will be well at once to dispel any conception the reader 
may have formed concerning the vast antiquity of 
these cities and the structures they contain. The very 
oldest of them cannot be of a date anterior to the 
thirteenth century, and few Americanists of repute 
would admit such an antiquity for them. There may 
be remains of a fragmentary nature here and there in 

Central America which are relatively more ancient. 















t « 





But no temple or edifice which remains standing can 
claim a greater antiquity. 

Palenque is built in the form of an amphitheatre, 
and nestles on the lowest slopes of the Cordilleras. 
Standing on the central pyramid, the eye is met by a 
ring of ruined palaces and temples raised upon artificial 
terraces. Of these the principal and most imposing 
is the Palace, a pile reared upon a single platform, 
forming an irregular quadrilateral, with a double 
gallery on the east, north, and west sides, surrounding 
an inner structure with a similar gallery and two court- 
yards. It is evident that there was little system or 
plan observed in the construction of this edifice, an 
unusual circumstance in Maya architecture. The 
dwelling apartments were situated on the southern side 
of the structure, and here there is absolute confusion, 
for buildings of all sorts and sizes jostle each other, 
and are reared on different levels. 

Our interest is perhaps at first excited by three sub- 
terraneous apartments down a flight of gloomy steps. 
Here are to be found three great stone tables, the 
edges of which are fretted with sculptured symbols. 
That these were altars admits of little doubt, although 
some visitors have not hesitated to call them dining- 
tables ! These constitute only one of the many 
puzzles in this building of 228 feet frontage, with a 
depth of 1 80 feet, which at the same time is only about 
25 feet high ! 

On the north side of the Palace pyramid the facade 

of the Palace has crumbled into complete ruin, but 

some evidences of an entrance are still noticeable. 

There were probably fourteen doorways in all in the 

frontage, with a width of about 9 feet each, the piers 

of which were covered with figures in bas-relief. The 

inside of the galleries is also covered at intervals with 



similar designs, or medallions, many of which are 
probably representations of priests or priestesses who 
once dwelt within the classic shades and practised 
strange rites in the worship of gods long since for- 
gotten. One of these is of a woman with delicate 
features and high-bred countenance, and the frame or 
rim surrounding it is decorated in a manner recalling 
the Louis XV style. 

The east gallery is 114 feet long, the north 185 feet, 
and the west 102 feet, so that, as remarked above, a 
lack of symmetry is apparent. The great court is 
reached by a Mayan arch which leads on to a staircase, 
on each side of which grotesque human figures of the 
Maya type are sculptured. Whom they are intended 
to portray or what rite they are engaged in it would 
indeed be difficult to say. That they are priests may 
be hazarded, for they appear to be dressed in the 
ecclesiastical maxtli (girdle), and one seems to be 
decorated with the beads seen in the pictures of the 
death-god. Moreover, they are mitred. 

The courtyard is exceedingly irregular in shape. 
To the south side is a small building which has 
assisted our knowledge of Maya mural decoration ; 
especially valuable is the handsome frieze with which 
it is adorned, on which we observe the rather familiar 
feathered serpent (Kujculcan or Quetzalcoatl). Every- 
where we notice the flat Maya head — a racial type, 
perhaps brought about by deformation of the cranium 
in youth. One of the most important parts of the 
Palace from an architectural point of view is the east 
front of the inner wing, which is perhaps the best 
preserved, and exhibits the most luxurious ornamen- 
tation. Two roofed galleries supported by six pillars 
covered with bas-reliefs are reached by a staircase on 
which hieroglyphic signs still remain. The reliefs in 


cement are still faintly to be discerned on the pillars, 
and must have been of great beauty. They represent 
mythological characters in various attitudes. Above, 
seven enormous heads frown on the explorer in grim 
menace. The effect of the entire facade is rich in the 
extreme, even in ruin, and from it we can obtain a faint 
idea of the splendours of this wonderful civilisation. 

An Architectural Curiosity 

One of the few towers to be seen among the ruins 
of Maya architecture stands at Palenque. It is square 
in shape and three stories in height, with sloping roof, 
and is not uniike the belfry of some little English village 

The building we have been describing, although 
traditionally known as a " palace," was undoubtedly a 
great monastery or ecclesiastical habitation. Indeed, 
the entire city of Palenque was solely a priestly centre, 
a place of pilgrimage. The bas-reliefs with their 
representations of priests and acolytes prove this, as 
does the absence of warlike or monarchical subjects. 

The Temple of Inscriptions 

The Temple of Inscriptions, perched on an eminence 

some 40 feet high, is the largest edifice in Palenque. 

It has a facade 74 feet long by 25 feet deep, composed 

of a great gallery which runs along the entire front 

of the fane. The building has been named from the 

inscriptions with which certain flagstones in the central 

apartment are covered. Three other temples occupy a 

piece of rising ground close by. These are the Temple 

of the Sun, closely akin in type to many Japanese 

temple buildings ; the Temple of the Cross, in which 

a wonderful altar-piece was discovered ; and the 

Temple of the Cross No. II. In the Temple of the 




Cross the inscribed altar gave its name to the build- 
ing. In the central slab is a cross of the American 
pattern, its roots springing from the hideous head of 
the goddess Chicomecohuatl, the Earth-mother, or 
her Maya equivalent. Its branches stretch to where 
on the right and left stand two figures, evidently those 
of a priest and acolyte, performing some mysterious 
rite. On the apex of the tree is placed the sacred turkey, 
or " Emerald Fowl," to which offerings of maize paste 
are made. The whole is surrounded by inscriptions. 
(See illustration facing p. 1 60.) 

Aki and Itzamal 

Thirty miles east of Merida lies Ak6, the colossal 
and primeval ruins of which speak of early Maya 
occupation. Here are pyramids, tennis-courts, and 

Erigantic pillars which once supported immense gal- 
eries, all in a state of advanced ruin. Chief among 
these is the great pyramid and gallery, a mighty 
staircase rising toward lofty pillars, and somewhat 
reminiscent of Stonehenge. For what purpose it was 
constructed is quite unknown. 

The House of Darkness 

One ruin, tradition calls " The House of Darkness." 
Here no light enters save that which filters in by the 
open doorway. The vaulted roof is lost in a lofty 
gloom. So truly have the huge blocks of which the 
building is composed been laid that not even a needle 
could be inserted between them. The whole is coated 
with a hard plaster or cement. 

The Palace of Owls 

The Knuc (Palace of Owls), where a beautiful 

frieze of diamond-shaped stones intermingling with 

The King who loved a Princess 

See page 189 

Gilbert James 




spheres may be observed, is noteworthy. All here is 
undoubtedly of the first Yucatec era, the time when 
the Maya first overran the country. 

At Itzamal the chief object of interest is the great 
pyramid of Kmich-Kakmo (The Sun's Face with Fiery 
Rays), the base of which covers an area of nearly 
650 square feet. To this shrine thousands were wont 
to come in times of panic or famine, and from the 
summit, where was housed the glittering idol, the 
smoke of sacrifice ascended to the cloudless sky, whilst 
a multitude of white-robed priests and augurs chanted 
and prophesied. To the south of this mighty pile 
stand the ruins of the Ppapp-Hol-Chac (The House 
of Heads and Lightnings), the abode of the chief 

Itzamna's Fane 

At Itzamal, too, stood one of the chief temples of the 

freat god Itzamna, the legendary founder of the Maya 
Empire. Standing on a lofty pyramid, four roads 
radiated from it, leading to Tabasco, Guatemala, and 
Chiapas ; and here they brought the halt, the maimed, 
and the blind, aye, even the dead, for succour and 
resurrection, such faith had they in the mighty power 
of Kab-ul (The Miraculous Hand), as they designated 
the deity. The fourth road ran to the sacred isle 
of Cozumel, where first the men of Spain found the 
Maya cross, and supposed it to prove that St. Thomas 
had discovered the American continent in early times, 
and had converted the natives to a Christianity which 
had become debased. 

Bearded Gods 

To the west arose another pyramid, on the summit 

of which was built the palace of Hunpictok (The 



Commander-in-chief of Eight Thousand Flints), in 
allusion, probably, to the god of lightning, Hurakan, 
whose gigantic face, once dominating the basement 
wall, has now disappeared. This face possessed huge 
mustachios, appendages unknown to the Maya race ; 
and, indeed, we are struck with the frequency with 
which Mexican and Mayan gods and heroes are 
adorned with beards and other hirsute ornaments both 
on the monuments and in the manuscripts. Was the 
original governing class a bearded race ? It is scarcely 
probable. Whence, then, the ever-recurring beard and 
moustache ? These may have been developed in the 
priestly class by constant ceremonial shaving, which 
often produces a thin beard in the Mongolians — as 
witness the modern Japanese, who in imitating a 
custom of the West often succeed in producing quite 
respectable beards. 

A Colossal Head 

Not far away is to be found a gigantic head, probably 
that of the god Itzamna. It is 13 feet in height, and 
the features were formed by first roughly tracing them 
in rubble, and afterwards coating the whole with 
plaster. The figure is surrounded by spirals, symbols 
of wind or speech. On the opposite side of the pyramid 
alluded to above is found a wonderful bas-relief repre- 
senting a tiger couchaht, with a human head of the Maya 
type, probably depicting one of the early ancestors of 
the Maya, Balam-Quitze (Tiger with the Sweet Smile), 
of whom we read in the Popol Vuh. 


At Chichen-Itza, in Yucatan, the chief wonder is the 

gigantic pyramid-temple known as El Castillo. It is 

reached by a steep flight of steps, and from it the vast 

Teocalli or Pyramid of Papantla 

Photo C. B. Waite, Mexico 

The Nunnery, Chichen-Itza 

Photo C. B. Waite, Mexico 




ruins of Chichen radiate in a circular manner. To 
the east is the market-place, to the north a mighty 
temple, and a tennis-court, perhaps the best example 
of its kind in Yucatan, whilst to the west stand the 
Nunnery and the Chichan-Chob, or prison. Con- 
cerning Chichen-Itza Cogolludo tells the following 
story : " A king of Chichen called Canek fell 
desperately in love with a young princess, who, 
whether she did not return his affection or whether 
she was compelled to obey a parental mandate, married 
a more powerful Yucatec cacique. The discarded lover, 
unable to bear his loss, and moved by love and despair, 
armed his dependents and suddenly fell upon his 
successful rival. Then the gaiety of the feast was 
exchanged for the din of war, and amidst the confusion 
the Chichen prince disappeared, carrying off the beauti- 
ful bride. But conscious that his power was less than 
his rival's, and fearing his vengeance, he fled the 
country with most of his vassals." It is a historical 
fact that the inhabitants of Chichen abandoned their 
city, but whether for the reason given in this story or 
not cannot be discovered. 

The Nunnery 

The Nunnery at Chichen is a building of great 
beauty of outline and decoration, the frieze above the 
doorway and the fretted ornamentation of the upper 
story exciting the admiration of most writers on the 
subject. Here dwelt the sacred women, the chief of 
whom, like their male prototypes, were dedicated to 
Kukulcan and regarded with much reverence. The 
base of the building is occupied by eight large figures, 
and over the door is the representation of a priest with 
a panache, whilst a row of gigantic heads crowns the 
north facade. Here, too, are figures of the wind-god, 

1 89 


with projecting lips, which many generations of anti- 
quarians took for heads of elephants with waving 
trunks ! The entire building is one of the gems of 
Central American architecture, and delights the eye of 
archaeologist and artist alike. In El Castillo are 
found wonderful bas-reliefs depicting bearded men, 
evidently the priests of Quetzalcoatl, himself bearded, 
and to the practised eye one of these would appear to 
be wearing a false hirsute appendage, as kings were wont 
to do in ancient Egypt. Were these beards artificial 
and symbolical? 

The " Writing in the Dark * 

The Akab-sib (Writing in the Dark) is a bas- 
relief found on the lintel of an inner door at the 
extremity of the building. It represents a figure seated 
before a vase, with outstretched forefinger, and whence 
it got its traditional appellation it would be hard to say, 
unless the person represented is supposed to be in the 
act of writing. The figure is surrounded by inscrip- 
tions. At Chichen were found a statue of Tlaloc, the 
god of rain or moisture, and immense torsos repre- 
senting Kukulcan. There also was a terrible well 
into which men were cast in time of drought as a 
propitiation to the rain-god. 


At Kabah there is a marvellous frontage which strik- 
ingly recalls that of a North American Indian totem- 
house in its fantastic wealth of detail. The ruins are 
scattered over a large area, and must all have been at 
one time painted in brilliant colours. Here two horses' 
heads in stone were unearthed, showing that the natives 
had copied faithfully the steeds of the conquering 
Spaniards, Nothing is known of the history of Kabah, 

Details of the Nunnery at Chichen-Itza 

Photo C. B. Waite, Mexico 




but its neighbour, Uxmal, fifteen miles distant, is much 
more famous. 


The imposing pile of the Casa del Gobernador 
(Governor's Palace, so called) at Uxmal is perhaps the 
best known and described of all the aboriginal buildings 
of Central America. It occupies three successive colossal 
terraces, and its frieze runs in a line of 325 feet, and is 
divided into panels, each of which frames a gigantic head 
of priest or deity. The striking thing concerning this 
edifice is that although it has been abandoned for over 
three hundred years it is still almost as fresh architec- 
turally as when it left the builder's hands. Here and there 
a lintel has fallen, or stones have been removed in a spirit 
of vandalism to assist in the erection of a neighbouring 
hacienda^ but on the whole we possess in it the most 
unspoiled piece of Yucatec building in existence. On 
the side of the palace where stands the main entrance, 
directly over the gateway, is the most wonderful fret- 
work and ornamentation, carried out in high relief, above 
which soar three eagles in hewn stone, surmounted by 
a plumed human head. In the plinth are three heads, 
which in type recall the Roman, surrounded by inscrip- 
tions. A clear proof of the comparative lateness of the 
period in which Uxmal was built is found in the circum- 
stance that all the lintels over the doorways are of 
wood, of which much still exists in a good state of 
preservation. Many of the joists of the roofs were also 
of timber, and were fitted into the stonework by means 
of specially carved ends. 

The Dwarfs House 

There is also a nunnery which forcibly recalls that at 
Chichen, and is quite as elaborate and flamboyant in its 



architectural design. But the real mystery at Uxmal 
is the Casa del Adivino (The Prophet's House), also 
locally known as " The Dwarfs House.*' It consists of 
two portions, one of which is on the summit of an arti- 
ficial pyramid, whilst the other, a small but beautifully 
finished chapel, is situated lower down facing the town. 
The loftier building is reached by an exceedingly steep 
staircase, and bears every evidence of having been used 
as a sanctuary, for here were discovered cacao and copal, 
recently burnt, by Cogolludo as late as 1656, which is 
good evidence that the Yucatecs did not all at once 
abandon their ancient faith at the promptings of the 
Spanish fathers. 

The Legend of the Dwarf 

In his Travels in Tucatan Stephens has a legend relat- 
ing to this house which may well be given in his own 
words : " An old woman," he says, " lived alone in her 
hut, rarely leaving her chimney-corner. She was much 
distressed at having no children, and in her grief one day 
took an egg, wrapped it up carefully in cotton cloth, and 
put it in a corner of her hut. She looked every day in 
great anxiety, but no change in the egg was observable. 
One morning, however, she found the shell broken, and 
a lovely tiny creature was stretching out its arms to her. 
The old woman was in raptures. She took it to her 
heart, gave it a nurse, and was so careful of it that at 
the end of a year the baby walked and talked as well as 
a grown-up man. But he stopped growing. The good 
old woman in her joy and delight exclaimed that the 
baby should be a great chief. One day she told him to go 
to the king's palace and engage him in a trial of strength. 
The dwarf begged hard not to be sent on such an enter- 
prise. But the old woman insisted on his going, and he 
was obliged to obey. When ushered into the presence 
*9 2 

The Old Woman who took an Egg home 
' Gilbert James 




of the sovereign he threw down his gauntlet. The 
latter smiled, and asked him to lift a stone of three 
aro^es (75 lb.). The child returned crying to his 
mother, who sent him back, saying, c If the king can lift 
the stone, you can lift it too/ The king did take it up, 
but so did the dwarf. His strength was tried in many 
other ways, but all the king did was as easily done by the 
dwarf. Wroth at being outdone by so puny a creature, 
the prince told the dwarf that unless he built a palace 
loftier than any in the city he should die. The affrighted 
dwarf returned to the old woman, who bade him not to 
despair, and the next morning they both awoke in the 
palace which is still standing. The king saw the palace 
with amazement. He instantly sent for the dwarf, and 
desired him to collect two bundles of cogoiol (a kind of 
hard wood), with one of which he would strike the dwarf 
on the head, and consent to be struck in return by his 
tiny adversary. The latter again returned to his mother 
moaning and lamenting. But the old woman cheered 
him up, and, placing a tortilla on his head, sent him back 
to the king. The trial took place in the presence of all 
the state grandees. The king broke the whole of his 
bundle on the dwarf's head without hurting him in the 
least, seeing which he wished to save his own head from 
the impending ordeal ; but his word had been passed 
before his assembled court, and he could not well refuse. 
The dwarf struck, and at the second blow the king's skull 
was broken to pieces. The spectators immediately pro- 
claimed the victorious dwarf their sovereign. After this 
the old woman disappeared. But in the village of Mani, 
fifty miles distant, is a deep well leading to a subterraneous 
passage which extends as far as Merida. In this passage 
is an old woman sitting on the bank of a river shaded 
by a great tree, having a serpent by her side. She sells 

water in small quantities, accepting no money, for she 

n 195 


must have human beings, innocent babies, which are 
devoured by the serpent. This old woman is the dwarf's 

The interpretation of this myth is by no means diffi- 
cult. The old woman is undoubtedly the rain-goddess, 
the dwarf the Man of the Sun who emerges from the 
cosmic egg. In Yucatan dwarfs were sacred to the 
sun-god, and were occasionally sacrificed to him, for 
reasons which appear obscure. 

The Mound of Sacrifice 

Another building at Uxmal the associations of which 
render it of more than passing interest is the Pyramid 
of Sacrifice, an edifice built on the plan of the Mexican 
teocalli. Indeed, it is probably of Aztec origin, and 
may even have been erected by the mercenaries who 
during the fifteenth century swarmed from Mexico 
into Yucatan and Guatemala to take service with the 
rival chieftains who carried on civil war in those states. 
Beside this is another mound which was crowned by a 
very beautiful temple, now in an advanced state of ruin. 
The " Pigeon House" is an ornate pile with pinnacles 
pierced by large openings which probably served as 
dovecotes. The entire architecture of Uxmal displays 
a type more primitive than that met elsewhere in 
Yucatan. There is documentary evidence to prove 
that so late as 1673 the Indians still worshipped in the 
ruins of Uxmal, where they burnt copal, and performed 
"other detestable sacrifices." So that even a hundred 
and fifty years of Spanish rule had not sufficed to wean 
the natives from the worship of the older gods to 
whom their fathers had for generations bowed down. 
This would also seem conclusive evidence that the 
ruins of Uxmal at least were the work of the existing 



The Phantom City 

In his Travels in Central America Stephens recounts 
a fascinating story told him by a priest of Santa 
Cruz del Quiche, to the effect that four days' journey 
from that place a great Indian city was to be seen, 
densely populated, and preserving the ancient civilisa- 
tion or the natives. He had, indeed, beheld it from 
the summit of a cliff, shining in glorious whiteness many 
leagues away. This was perhaps Lorillard City, dis- 
covered by Suarez, and afterwards by Charnay. In general 
type Lorillard closely resembles Palenque. Here was 
found a wonderfully executed stone idol, which Charnay 
thought represented a different racial type from that 
seen in the other Central American cities. The chief 
finds of interest in this ancient city were the intricate 
bas-reliefs, one over the central door of a temple, 
probably a symbolic representation of Quetzalcoatl, 
who holds the rain-cross, in both hands, and is seen 
vis-a-vis with an acolyte, also holding the symbol, 
though it is possible that the individual represented 
may have been the high-priest of Quetzalcoatl or 
Kukulcan. Another bas-relief represents a priest 
sacrificing to Kukulcan by passing a rope of maguey 
fibre over his tongue for the purpose of drawing blood 
— an instance of the substitution in sacrifice of the part 
for the whole. 

The Horse'God 

At Peten-Itza, Cortis left his horse, which had fallen 
sick, to the care of the Indians. The animal died under 
their mismanagement and because of the food offered 
it, and the terrified natives, fancying it a divine being, 
raised an image of it, and called it Izimin Chac 
(Thunder and Lightning), because they had seen 



its rider discharge a firearm, and they imagined that the 
flash and the report had proceeded from the creature. 
The sight of the idol aroused such wrath in the zealous 
bosom of a certain Spanish monk that he broke it with 
a huge stone — and, but for the interference of the 
cacique, would have suffered death for his temerity. 
Peten was a city " filled with idols," as was Tayasal, 
close at hand, where in the seventeenth century no less 
than nine new temples were built, which goes to prove 
that the native religion was by no means extinct. One 
of these new temples, according to Villagutierre, had a 
Spanish balcony of hewn stone ! In the Temple of 
the Sun at Tikal, an adjoining city, is a wonderful 
altar panel, representing an unknown deity, and here 
also are many of those marvellously carved idols of 
which Stephens gives such capital illustrations in his 
fascinating book. 


Copan, one of the most interesting of these wondrous 
city-centres, the name of which has, indeed, become 
almost a household word, is in the same district as the 
towns just described, and abounds chiefly in monolithic 
images. It yielded after a desperate struggle to 
Hernandez de Chaves, one of Alvarado's lieutenants, 
in 1530. The monolithic images so abundantly re- 
presented here are evolved from the stelae and the bas- 
relief, and are not statues in the proper sense of the 
term, as they are not completely cut away from the 
stone background out of which they were carved. An 
altar found at Copan exhibits real skill in sculpture, 
the head-dresses, ornaments, and expressions of the 
eight figures carved on its sides being elaborate in the 
extreme and exceedingly lifelike. Here again we 

notice a fresh racial type, which goes to prove that one 


race alone cannot have been responsible for these 
marvellous ruined cities and all that they contain and 
signify. We have to imagine a shifting of races and 
a fluctuation of peoples in Central America such as we 
know took place in Europe and Asia before we can 
rightly understand the ethnological problems of the 
civilised sphere of the New World, and any theory 
which does not take due account of such conditions is 
doomed to failure. 


We now come to the last of these stupendous 
remnants of a vanished civilisation — Mitla, by no 
means the least of the works of civilised man in 
Central America. At the period of the conquest the 
city occupied a wide area, but at the present time only 
six palaces and three ruined pyramids are left standing. 
The great palace is a vast edifice in the shape of the 
letter T, and measures 130 feet in its greater dimension, 
with an apartment of a like size. Six monolithic 
columns which supported the roof still stand in gigantic 
isolation, but the roof itself has long fallen in. A 
dark passage leads to the inner court, and the walls of 
this are covered with mosaic work in panels which 
recalls somewhat the pattern known as the " Greek 
fret." The lintels over the doorways are of huge 
blocks of stone nearly eighteen feet long. Of this 
building Viollet-le-Duc says : "The monuments of 
Greece and Rome in their best time can alone compare 
with the splendour of this great edifice." 

A Place of Sepulture 

The ruins at Mitla bear no resemblance to those 
of Mexico or Yucatan, either as regards architecture 

or ornamentation, for whereas the Yucatec buildings 



possess overlapping walls, the palaces of Mitla consist 
of perpendicular walls intended to support flat roofs. 
Of these structures the second and fourth palaces alone 
are in such a state of preservation as to permit of 
general description. The second palace shows by its 
sculptured lintel and two inner columns that the same 
arrangement was observed in its construction as in the 
great palace just described. The fourth palace has on 
its southern facade oblong panels and interesting carya- 
tides or pillars in the shape of human figures. These 
palaces consisted of four upper apartments, finely sculp- 
tured, and a like number of rooms on the lower story, 
which was occupied by the high-priest, and to which the 
king came to mourn on the demise of a relative. Here, 
too, the priests were entombed, and in an adjoining 
room the idols were kept. Into a huge underground 
chamber the bodies of eminent warriors and sacrificial 
victims were cast. Attempts have been made to identify 
Mitla with Mictlan, the Mexican Hades, and there is 
every reason to suppose that the identification is cor- 
rect. It must be borne in mind that Mictlan was as 
much a place of the dead as a place of punishment, as 
was the Greek Hades, and therefore might reasonably 
signify a place of sepulture, such as Mitla undoubtedly 
was. The following passages from the old historians 
of Mitla, Torquemada and Burgoa, throw much light 
on this aspect of the city, and besides are full of the 
most intense interest and curious information, so that 
they may be given in extenso. But before passing on 
to them we should for a moment glance at Seler's sug- 
gestion that the American race imagined that their 
ancestors had originally issued from the underworld 
through certain caverns into the light of day, and that 
this was the reason why Mitla was not only a burial- 
place but a sanctuary. 

Great Palace of Mitla 

By permission of the Bureau of American Ethnology 

Interior of an Apartment in the Palace of Mitla 

Photo C. B. Waite, Mexico 




An Old Description of Mitla 

Of Mitla Father Torquemada writes : 

"When some monks of my order, the Franciscan, 
passed, preaching and shriving, through the province 
of Zapoteca, whose capital city is Tehuantepec, they 
came to a village which was called Mictlan, that is, 
Underworld [Hell]. Besides mentioning the large 
number of people in the village they told of buildings 
which were prouder and more magnificent than any 
which they had hitherto seen in New Spain. Among 
them was a temple of the evil spirit and living-rooms 
for his demoniacal servants, and among other fine 
things there was a hall with ornamented panels, which 
were constructed of stone in a variety of arabesques and 
other very remarkable designs. There were doorways 
there, each one of which was built of but three stones, 
two upright at the sides and one across them, in such 
a manner that, although these doorways were very high 
and broad, the stones sufficed for their entire construc- 
tion. They were so thick and broad that we were 
assured there were few like them. There was another 
hall in these buildings, or rectangular temples, which 
was erected entirely on round stone pillars, very high 
and very thick, so thick that two grown men could 
scarcely encircle them with their arms, nor could one 
of them reach the finger-tips of the other. These 
pillars were all in one piece, and, it was said, the whole 
shaft of a pillar measured 5 ells from top to bottom, 
and they were very much like those of the Church of 
Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, very skilfully made 
and polished.*' 

Father Burgoa gives a more exact description. He 


" The Palace of the Living and of the Dead was built 



for the use of this person [the high-priest of the 
Zapotecs]. . . . They built this magnificent house or 
pantheon in the shape of a rectangle, with portions 
rising above the earth and portions built down into 
the earth, the latter in the hole or cavity which was 
found below the surface of the earth, and ingeniously 
made the chambers of equal size by the manner of 
joining them, leaving a spacious court in the middle ; 
and in order to secure four equal chambers they 
accomplished what barbarian heathen (as they were) 
could only achieve by the powers and skill of an 
architect. It is not known in what stone-pit they 
quarried the pillars, which are so thick that two men 
can scarcely encircle them with their arms. These are, 
to be sure, mere shafts without capital or pedestal, but 
they are wonderfully regular and smooth, and they are 
about 5 ells high and in one piece. These served to 
support the roof, which consists of stone slabs instead 
of beams. The slabs are about 1 ells long, i ell broad, 
and half an ell thick, extending from pillar to pillar. 
The pillars stand in a row, one behind the other, in 
order to receive the weight. The stone slabs are so 
regular and so exactly fitted that, without any mortar 
or cement, at the joints they resemble mortised beams. 
The four rooms, which are very spacious, are arranged 
in exactly the same r way and covered with the same 
kind of roofing. But in the construction of the walls 
the greatest architects of the earth have been surpassed, 
as I have not found this kind of architecture described 
either among the Egyptians or among the Greeks, for 
they begin at the base with a narrow outline and, as 
the structure rises in height, spread out in wide copings 
at the top, so that the upper part exceeds the base in 
breadth and looks as if it would fall over. The inner 
side of the walls consists of a mortar or stucco of such 


hardness that no one knows with what kind of liquid 
it could have been mixed. The outside is of such 
extraordinary workmanship that on a masonry wall 
about an ell in height there are placed stone slabs with 
a projecting edge, which form the support for an end- 
less number of small white stones, the smallest of which 
are a sixth of an ell long, half as broad, and a quarter 
as thick, and which are as smooth and regular as if 
they had all come from one mould. They had so many 
of these stones that, setting them in, one beside the 
other, they formed with them a large number of 
different beautiful geometric designs, each an ell broad 
and running the whole length of the wall, each varying 
in pattern up to the crowning piece, which was the 
finest of all. And what has always seemed inexplicable 
to the greatest architects is the adjustment of these 
little stones without a single handful of mortar, and 
the fact that without tools, with nothing but hard 
stones and sand, they could achieve such solid work 
that, though the whole structure is very old and no 
one knows who made it, it has been preserved until 
the present day. 

Human Sacrifice at Mitla 

" I carefully examined these monuments some thirty 
years ago in the chambers above ground, which are 
constructed of the same size and in the same way as 
those below ground, and, though single pieces were in 
ruins because some stones had become loosened, there 
was still much to admire. The doorways were very 
large, the sides of each being of single stones of the 
same thickness as the wall, and the lintel was made 
out of another stone which held the two lower ones 
together at the top. There were four chambers above 
ground and four below. The latter were arranged 



according to their purpose in such a way that one front 
chamber served as chapel and sanctuary for the idols, 
which were placed on a great stone which served as an 
altar. And for the more important feasts which they 
celebrated with sacrifices, or at the burial of a king or 
great lord, the high-priest instructed the lesser priests 
or the subordinate temple officials who served him to 
prepare the chapel and his vestments and a large 
quantity of the incense used by them. And then he 
descended with a great retinue, while none of the 
common people saw him or dared to look in his face, 
convinced that if they did so they would fall dead to 
the earth as a punishment for their boldness. And 
when he entered the chapel they put on him a long 
white cotton garment made like an alb, and over that a 
garment shaped like a dalmatic, which was embroidered 
with pictures of wild beasts and birds ; and they put a 
cap on his head, and on his feet a kind of shoe woven 
of many coloured feathers. And when he had put on 
these garments he walked with solemn mien and 
measured step to the altar, bowed low before the idols, 
renewed the incense, and then in quite unintelligible 
murmurs he began to converse with these images, 
these depositories of infernal spirits, and continued in 
this sort of prayer with hideous grimaces and writhings, 
uttering inarticulate sounds, which filled all present 
with fear and terror, till he came out of that diabolical 
trance and told those standing around the lies and 
fabrications which the spirit had imparted to him or 
which he had invented himself. When human beings 
were sacrificed the ceremonies were multiplied, and the 
assistants of the high-priest stretched the victim out 
upon a large stone, baring his breast, which they tore 
open with a great stone knife, while the body writhed 
in fearful convulsions, and they laid the heart bare, 



1 1 







4| O 














ripping it out, and with it the soul, which the devil 
took, while they carried the heart to the high-priest 
that he might offer it to the idols by holding it to their 
mouths, among other ceremonies ; and the body was 
thrown into the burial-place of their c blessed,' as they 
called them. And if after the sacrifice he felt inclined 
to detain those who begged any favour he sent them 
word by the subordinate priests not to leave their 
houses till their gods were appeased, and he com- 
manded them to do penance meanwhile, to fast and to 
speak with no woman, so that, until this father of sin 
had interceded for the absolution of the penitents and 
had declared the gods appeased,^ they did not dare to 
cross their thresholds. 

" The second (underground) chamber was the burial- 
place of these high-priests, the third that of the kings 
of Theozapotlan, whom they brought hither richly 
dressed in their best attire, feathers, jewels, golden 
necklaces, and precious stones, placing a shield in the 
left hand and a javelin in the right, just as they used 
them in war. And at their burial rites great mourning 
prevailed ; the instruments which were played made 
mournful sounds ; and with loud wailing and con- 
tinuous sobbing they chanted the life and exploits of 
their lord until they laid him on the structure which 
they had prepared for this purpose. 

Living Sacrifices 

" The last (underground) chamber hnd a second 

door at the rear, which led to a dark and gruesome 

room. This was closed with a stone slab, which 

occupied the whole entrance. Through this door they 

threw the bodies of the victims and of the great lords 

and chieftains who had fallen in battle, and they 

brought them from the spot where they fell, even 



when it was very far off, to this burial-place ; and so 
great was the barbarous infatuation of those Indians 
that, in the belief of the happy life which awaited them, 
many who were oppressed by diseases or hardships 
begged this infamous priest to accept them as living 
sacrifices and allow them to enter through that portal 
and roam about in the dark interior of the mountain, 
to seek the feasting-places of their forefathers. And 
when any one obtained this favour the servants of the 
high-priest led him thither with special ceremonies, 
and after they allowed him to enter through the small 
door they rolled the stone before it again and took 
leave of him, and the unhappy man, wandering in that 
abyss of darkness, died of hunger and thirst, beginning 
already in life the pain of his damnation, and on 
account of this horrible abyss they called this village 

The Cavern of Death 

" When later there fell upon these people the light 
of the Gospel, its servants took much trouble to instruct 
them, and to find out whether this error, common to all 
these nations, still prevailed ; and they learned from the 
stories which had been handed down that all were con- 
vinced that this damp cavern extended more than thirty 
leagues underground,, and that its roof was supported 
by pillars. And there were people, zealous prelates 
anxious for knowledge, who, in order to convince these 
ignorant people of their error, went into this cave accom- 
panied by a large number of people bearing lighted 
torches and firebrands, and descended several large steps. 
And they soon came upon many great buttresses which 
formed a kind of street. They had prudently brought 
a quantity of rope with them to use as guiding-lines, 

that they might not lose themselves in this confusing 


labyrinth. And the putrefaction and the bad odour and 
the dampness of the earth were very great, and there 
was also a cold wind which blew out their torches. And 
after they had gone a short distance, fearing to be over- 
powered by the stench, or to step on poisonous reptiles, 
of which some had been seen, they resolved to go out 
again, and to completely wall up this back door o. 
hell. The four buildings above ground were the only 
ones which still remained open, and they had a court 
and chambers like those underground ; and the ruins 
of these have lasted even to the present day. 

Palace of the High'Priest 

" One of the rooms above ground was the palace of 
the high-priest, where he sat and slept, for the apart- 
ment offered room and opportunity for everything. 
The throne was like a high cushion, with a high back 
to lean against, all of tiger-skin, stuffed entirely with 
delicate feathers, or with fine grass which was used for 
this purpose. The other seats were smaller, even when 
the king came to visit him. The authority of this 
devilish priest was so great that there was no one who 
dared to cross the court, and to avoid this the other 
three chambers had doors in the rear, through which 
even the kings entered. For this purpose they had 
alleys and passage-ways on the outside above and below, 
by which people could enter and go out when they came 
to see the high-priest. . . . 

" The second chamber above ground was that of the 
priests and the assistants of the high-priest. The third 
was that of the king when he came. The fourth was that 
of the other chieftains and captains, and though the 
space was small for so great a number, and for so many 
different families, yet they accommodated themselves 
to each other out of respect for the place, and avoided 



dissensions and factions. Furthermore, there was no 
other administration of justice in this place than that of 
the high-priest, to whose unlimited power all bowed. 

Furniture of the Temples 

"All the rooms were clean, and well furnished with 
mats. It was not the custom to sleep on bedsteads, 
however great a lord might be. They used very taste- 
fully braided mats, which were spread on the floor, and 
soft skins of animals and delicate fabrics for coverings. 
Their food consisted usually of animals killed in the 
hunt — deer, rabbits, armadillos, &c, and also birds, 
which they killed with snares or arrows. The bread, 
made of their maize, was white and well kneaded. 
Their drinks were always cold, made of ground choco- 
late, which was mixed with water and pounded maize. 
Other drinks were made of pulpy and of crushed fruits, 
which were then mixed with the intoxicating drink pre- 
pared from the agave ; for since the common people 
were forbidden the use of intoxicating drinks, there was 
always an abundance of these on hand." 




Mythology of the Maya 

OUR knowledge of the mythology of the Maya 
is by no means so full and comprehensive 
as in the case of Mexican mythology. 
Traditions are few and obscure, and the hiero- 
glyphic matter is closed to us. But one great mine 
of Maya-Kiche mythology exists which furnishes us 
with much information regarding Kiche cosmogony 
and pseudo-history, with here and there an interesting 
allusion to the various deities of the Kiche pantheon. 
This is the Popol Vuh^ a volume in which a little real 
history is mingled with much mythology. It was com- 
posed in the form in which we now possess it by a 
Christianised native of Guatemala in the seventeenth 
century, and copied in Kiche, in which it was origin- 
ally written, by one Francisco Ximenes, a monk, who 
also added to it a Spanish translation. 

The Lost Popol Vuh" 

For generations antiquarians interested in this 
wonderful compilation were aware that it existed 
somewhere in Guatemala, and many were the regrets 
expressed regarding their inability to unearth it. A 
certain Don Felix Cabrera had made use of it early in 
the nineteenth century, but the whereabouts of the 
copy he had seen could not be discovered. A Dr. C. 
Scherzer, of Austria, resolved, if possible, to discover 
it, and paid a visit to Guatemala in 1854 for that pur- 
pose. After a diligent search he succeeded in finding 
the lost manuscript in the University of San Carlos in 
the city of Guatemala. Ximenes, the copyist, had 
placed it in the library of the convent of Chichicasten- 

ango, whence it passed to the San Carlos library in 1830. 



Genuine Character of the Work 

Much doubt has been cast upon the genuine cha- 
racter of the Popol Vuh, principally by persons who were 
almost if not entirely ignorant of the problems of pre- 
Columbian history in America. Its genuine character, 
however, is by no means difficult to prove. It has 
been stated that it is a mere rechauffe of the known 
facts of Maya history coloured by Biblical knowledge, 
a native version of the Christian Bible. But such a 
theory will not stand when it is shown that the matter 
it contains squares with the accepted facts of Mexican 
mythology, upon which the Popol Vuh throws consider- 
able light. Moreover, the entire work bears the stamp 
of being a purely native compilation, and has a flavour 
of great antiquity. Our knowledge of the general 
principles of mythology, too, prepares us for the un- 
ualified acceptance of the material of the Popol Vuh, 
or we find there the stories and tales, the conceptions 
and ideas connected with early religion which are the 
property of no one people, but of all peoples and races 
in an early social state. 


Likeness to other PseudVHistories 

We find in this interesting book a likeness to many 
other works of early times. The Popol Vuh is, indeed, 
of the same genre <and class as the Heimskringla of 
Snorre, the history of Saxo Grammaticus, the Chinese 
history in the Five Books, the Japanese Nihongi, and 
many other similar compilations. But it surpasses all 
these in pure interest because it is the only native 
American work that has come down to us from pre- 
Columbian times. 

The name "Popol Vuh " means "The Collection of 
Written Leaves," which proves that the book must 


have contained traditional matter reduced to writing at 
a very early period. It is, indeed, a compilation of 
mythological character,interspersed with pseudo-history, 
which, as the account reaches modern times, shades 
off into pure history and tells the deeds of authentic 
personages. The language in which it was written, the 
Kiche, was a dialect of the Maya-Kiche tongue spoken 
at the time of the conquest in Guatemala, Honduras, 
and San Salvador, and still the tongue of the native 
populations in these districts. 

The Creation'Story - 

The beginning of this interesting book is taken up 
with the Kiche story of the creation, and what occurred 
directly subsequent to that event. We are told that 
the god Hurakan, the mighty wind, a deity in whom 
we can discern a Kiche equivalent to Tezcatlipoca, 
passed over the universe, still wrapped in gloom. He 
called out "Earth," and the solid land appeared. Then 
the chief gods took counsel among themselves as to 
what should next be made. These were Hurakan, 
Gucumatz or Quetzalcoatl, and Xpiyacoc and Xmu- 
cane, the mother and father gods. They agreed that 
animals should be created. This was accomplished, 
and they next turned their attention to the framing of 
man. They made a number of mannikins carved out 
of wood. But these were irreverent and angered the 
gods, who resolved to bring about their downfall. 
Then Hurakan (The Heart of Heaven) caused the 
waters to be swollen, and a mighty flood came upon 
the mannikins. Also a thick resinous rain descended 
upon them. The bird Xecotcovach tore out their eyes, 
the bird Camulatz cut off their heads, the bird Cotz- 
balam devoured their flesh, the bird Tecumbalam 

broke their bones and sinews and ground them into 

o 209 


powder. Then all sorts of beings, great and small, 
abused the mannikins. The household utensils and 
domestic animals jeered at them, and made game of 
them in their plight. The dogs and hens said : " Very 
badly have you treated us and you have bitten us. 
Now we bite you in turn." The millstones said : 
" Very much were we tormented by you, and daily, 
daily, night and day, it was squeak, screech, screech, 
holi, holi, huqi, huqi, 1 for your sake. Now you shall 
feel our strength, and we shall grind your flesh and 
make meal of your bodies.*' And the dogs growled at 
the unhappy images because they had not been fed, 
and tore them with their teeth. The cups and platters 
said : " Pain and misery you gave us, smoking our 
tops and sides, cooking us over the fire, burning and 
hurting us as if we had no feeling. Now it is your 
turn, and you shall burn. ,, The unfortunate manni- 
kins ran hither and thither in their despair. They 
mounted upon the roofs of the houses, but the houses 
crumbled beneath their feet ; they tried to climb to the 
tops of the trees, but the trees hurled them down ; they 
were even repulsed by the caves, which closed before 
them. Thus this ill-starred race was finally destroyed 
and overthrown, and the only vestiges of them which 
remain are certain of their progeny, the little monkeys 
which dwell in the woods. 


Vukub'Cakix, the Great Macaw 

Ere the earth was quite recovered from the wrathful 
flood which had descended upon it there lived a being 
orgulous and full of pride, called Vukub-Cakix (Seven- 
times-the-colour-of-fire — the Kiche name for the great 
macaw bird). His teeth were of emerald, and other 

1 These words are obviously onomatopoetic, and are evidently 
intended to imitate the sound made by a millstone. 


parts of him shone with the brilliance of gold and 
silver. In short, it is evident that he was a sun-and- 
moon god of prehistoric times. He boasted dread- 
fully, and his conduct so irritated the other gods that 
they resolved upon his destruction. His two sons, 
Zipacna and Cabrakan (Cockspur or Earth-heaper, and 
Earthquake), were earthquake-gods of the type of the 
Jfttuns of Scandinavian myth or the Titans of Greek 
legend. These also were prideful and arrogant, and to 
cause their downfall the gods despatched the heavenly 
twins Hun-Apu and Xbalanque to earth, with instruc- 
tions to chastise the trio. 

Vukub-Cakix prided himself upon his possession of 
the wonderful nanze-tree, the tapal, bearing a fruit 
round, yellow, and aromatic, upon which he break- 
fasted every morning. One morning he mounted to 
its summit, whence he could best espy the choicest 
fruits, when he was surprised and infuriated to observe 
that two strangers had arrived there before him, 
and had almost denuded the tree of its produce. On 
seeing Vukub, Hun-Apu raised a blow-pipe to his 
mouth and blew a dart at the giant. It struck him on 
the mouth, and he fell from the top of the tree to 
the ground. Hun-Apu leapt down upon Vukub and 
grappled with him, but the giant in terrible anger 
seized the god by the arm and wrenched it from the 
body. He then returned to his house, where he was 
met by his wife, Chimalmat, who inquired for what 
reason he roared with pain. In reply he pointed to his 
mouth, and so full of anger was he against Hun-Apu 
that he took the arm he had wrenched from him and 
hung it over a blazing fire. He then threw himself 
down to bemoan his injuries, consoling himself, how- 
ever, with the idea that he had avenged himself upon 
the disturbers of his peace. 



Whilst Vukub-Cakix moaned and howled with the 
dreadful pain which he felt in his jaw and teeth (for 
the dart which had pierced him was probably poisoned) 
the arm of Hun-Apu hung over the fire, and was 
turned round and round and basted by Vukub's spouse, 
Chimalmat. The sun-god rained bitter imprecations 
upon the interlopers who had penetrated to his para- 
dise and had caused him such woe, and he gave vent 
to dire threats of what would happen if he succeeded 
in getting them into his power. 

But Hun-Apu and Xbalanque were not minded that 
Vukub-Cakix should escape so easily, and the recovery 
of Hun-Apu' s arm must be made at all hazards. So 
they went to consult two great and wise magicians, 
Xpiyacoc and Xmucane, in whom we see two of 
the original Kiche creative deities, who advised them 
to proceed with them in disguise to the dwelling of 
Vukub, if they wished to recover the lost arm. The 
old magicians resolved to disguise themselves as doc- 
tors, and dressed Hun-Apu and Xbalanque in other 
garments to represent their sons. 

Shortly they arrived at the mansion of Vukub, and 
while still some way off they could hear his groans 
and cries. Presenting themselves at the door, they 
accosted him. They told him that they had heard 
some one crying put in pain, and that as famous 
doctors they considered it their duty to ask who was 

Vukub appeared quite satisfied, but closely ques- 
tioned the old wizards concerning the two young men 
who accompanied them. 

" They are our sons," they replied. 

" Good," said Vukub. " Do you think you will be 

able to cure me ? " 

" We have no doubt whatever upon that head," 


answered Xpiyacoc. "You have sustained very bad 
injuries to your mouth and eyes." 

"The demons who shot me with an arrow from their 
blow-pipe are the cause of my sufferings," said Vukub. 
" If you are able to cure me I shall reward you richly." 

" Your Highness has many bad teeth, which must 
be removed," said the wily old magician. " Also the 
balls of your eyes appear to me to be diseased. n 

Vukub appeared highly alarmed, but the magicians 
speedily reassured him. 

" It is necessary," said Xpiyacoc, " that we remove 
your teeth, but we will take care to replace them with 
grains of maize, which you will find much more 
agreeable in every way." 

The unsuspicious giant agreed to the operation, and 
very quickly Xpiyacoc, with the help of Xmucane, 
removed his teeth of emerald, and replaced them by 
grains of white maize. A change quickly came over 
the Titan. His brilliancy speedily vanished, and when 
they removed the balls of his eyes he sank into 
insensibility and died. 

All this time the wife of Vukub was turning Hun- 
Apu's arm over the fire, but Hun-Apu snatched the limb 
from above the brazier, and with the help of the magi- 
cians replaced it upon his shoulder. The discomfiture of 
Vukub was then complete. The party left his dwelling 
feeling that their mission had been accomplished. 

The Earth-Giants 

But in reality it was only partially accomplished, 
because Vukub's two sons, Zipacna and Cabrakan, still 
remained to be dealt with. Zipacna was daily employed 
in heaping up mountains, while Cabrakan, his brother, 
shook them in earthquake. The vengeance of Hun* 
Apu and Xbalanque was first directed against Zipacna, 



and they conspired with a band of young men to bring 
about his death. 

The young men, four hundred in number, pretended 
to be engaged in building a house. They cut down a 
large tree, which they made believe was to be the roof- 
tree of their dwelling, and waited in a part of the 
forest through which they knew Zipacna must pass. 
After a while they could hear the giant crashing 
through the trees. He came into sight, and when he 
saw them standing round the giant tree-trunk, which 
they could not lift, he seemed very much amused. 

" What have you there, O little ones ? " he said 

" Only a tree, your Highness, which we have felled 
for the roof-tree of a new house we are building/ 1 

" Cannot you carry it ?" asked the giant disdainfully. 

" No, your Highness," they made answer; " it is much 
too heavy to be lifted even by our united efforts." 

With a good-natured laugh the Titan stooped and 
lifted the great trunk upon his shoulder. Then, 
bidding them lead the way, he trudged through the 
forest, evidently not disconcerted in the least by his 
great burden. Now the young men, incited by Hun- 
Apu and Xbalanque, had dug a great ditch, which they 
pretended was to serve for the foundation of their new 
house. Into this they requested Zipacna to descend, 
and, scenting no mischief, the giant readily complied. 
On his reaching the bottom his treacherous acquaint- 
ances cast huge trunks of trees upon him, but on 
hearing them coming down he quickly took refuge in 
a small side tunnel which the youths had constructed 
to serve as a cellar beneath their house. 

Imagining the giant to be killed, they began at once 

to express their delight by singing and dancing, and to 

lend colour to his stratagem Zipacna despatched several 

The Twins make an Imitation Crab 
Gilbert James 




friendly ants to the surface with strands of hair, which 
the young men concluded had been taken from his 
dead body. Assured by the seeming proof of his 
death, the youths proceeded to build their house upon 
the tree-trunks which they imagined covered Zipacna's 
body, and, producing a quantity of pulque, they began 
to make merry over the end of their enemy. For some 
hours their new dwelling rang with revelry. 

All this time Zipacna, quietly hidden below, was 
listening to the hubbub and waiting his chance to 
revenge himself upon those who had entrapped him. 

Suddenly arising in his giant might, he cast the 
house and all its inmates high in the air. The dwelling 
was utterly demolished, and the band of youths were 
hurled with such force into the sky that they remained 
there, and in the stars we call the Pleiades we can still 
discern them wearily waiting an opportunity to return 
to earth. 

The Undoing of Zipacna 

But Hun-Apu and Xbalanque, grieved that their 
comrades had so perished, resolved that Zipacna must 
not be permitted to escape so easily. He, carrying 
the mountains by night, sought his food by day on the 
shore of the river, where he wandered catching fish and 
crabs. The brothers made a large artificial crab, which 
they placed in a cavern at the bottom of a ravine. 
They then cunningly undermined a huge mountain, 
and awaited events. Very soon they saw Zipacna 
wandering along the side of the river, and asked him 
where he was going. 

" Oh, I am only seeking my daily food," replied the 

"And what may that consist of?" asked the 


" Only of fish and crabs," replied Zipacna. 

" Oh, there is a crab down yonder," said the crafty 
brothers, pointing to the bottom of the ravine. " We 
espied it as we came along. Truly, it is a great crab, 
and will furnish you with a capital breakfast." 

" Splendid ! " cried Zipacna, with glistening eyes. 
"I must have it at once," and with one bound he leapt 
down to where the cunningly contrived crab lay in the 

No sooner had he reached it than Hun-Apu and 
Xbalanque cast the mountain upon him ; but so desperate 
were his efforts to get free that the brothers feared he 
might rid himself of the immense weight of earth under 
which he was buried, and to make sure of his fate they 
turned him into stone. Thus at the foot of Mount 
Meahuan, near Vera Paz, perished the proud Mountain- 

The Discomfiture of Cabrakan 

Now only the third of this family of boasters re- 
mained, and he was the most proud of any. 

" I am the Overturner of Mountains ! " said he. 

But Hun-Apu and Xbalanque had made up their minds 
that not one of the race of Vukub should be left alive. 

At the moment when they were plotting the over- 
throw of Cabrakan he was occupied in moving moun- 
tains. He seized the mountains by their bases and, 
exerting his mighty strength, cast them into the air ; 
and of the smaller mountains he took no account at all. 
While he was so employed he met the brothers, who 
greeted him cordially. 

" Good day, Cabrakan," said they. " What may you 
be doing ? " 

" Bah ! nothing at all," replied the giant. " Cannot 

you see that I am throwing the mountains about, which 


is my usual occupation ? And who may you be that 
ask such stupid questions ? What are your names ?" 

" We have no names," replied they. " We are only 
hunters, and here we have our blow-pipes, with which 
we shoot the birds that live in these mountains. So you 
see that we do not require names, as we meet no one." 
Cabrakan looked at the brothers disdainfully, and was 
about to depart when they said to him : " Stay ; we 
should like to behold these mountain-throwing feats of 
yours. " 

This aroused the pride of Cabrakan. 
"Well, since you wish it," said he, "I will show 
you how I can move a really great mountain. Now, 
choose the one you would like to see me destroy, 
and before you are aware of it I shall have reduced it 
to dust." 

Hun-Apu looked around him, and espying a great 
peak pointed toward it. " Do you think you could 
overthrow that mountain ?" he asked. 

"Without the least difficulty," replied Cabrakan, with 
a great laugh. "Let us go toward it." 

" But first you must eat," said Hun-Apu. " You 
have had no food since morning, and so great a feat can 
hardly be accomplished fasting." 

The giant smacked his lips. "You are right," he 
said, with a hungry look. Cabrakan was one of those 
people who are always hungry. "But what have you 
to give me ?" 

"We have nothing with us," said Hun-Apu. 
" Umph 1 " growled Cabrakan, "you are a pretty 
fellow. You ask me what I will have to eat, and then 
tell me you have nothing," and in his anger he seized 
one of the smaller mountains and threw it into the sea, 
so that the waves splashed up to the sky. 

"Come," said Hun-Apu, "don't get angry. We 



have our blow-pipes with us, and will shoot a bird for 
your dinner." 

On hearing this Cabrakan grew somewhat quieter. 

" Why did you not say so at first ? " he growled. 
" But be quick, because I am hungry." 

Just at that moment a large bird passed overhead, 
and Hun-Apu and Xbalanque raised their blow-pipes 
to their mouths. The darts sped swiftly upward, and 
both of them struck the bird, which came tumbling 
down through the air, falling at the feet of Cabrakan. 

" Wonderful, wonderful ! " cried the giant. " You 
are clever fellows indeed," and, seizing the dead bird, 
he was going to eat it raw when Hun-Apu stopped 

" Wait a moment," said he. " It will be much nicer 
when cooked," and, rubbing two sticks together, he 
ordered Xbalanque to gather some dry wood, so that 
a fire was soon blazing. 

The bird was then suspended over the fire, and in a 
short time a savoury odour mounted to the nostrils of 
the giant, who stood watching the cooking with hungry 
eyes and watering lips. 

Before placing the bird over the fire to cook, how- 
ever, Hun-Apu had smeared its feathers with a thick 
coating of mud. The Indians in some parts of Central 
America still do this, so that when the mud dries with 
the heat of the fire the feathers will come off with it, 
leaving the flesh of the bird quite ready to eat. But 
Hun-Apu had done this with a purpose. The mud 
that he spread on the feathers was that of a poisoned 
earth, called tizate, the elements of which sank deeply 
into the flesh of the bird. 

When the savoury mess was cooked, he handed it 

to Cabrakan, who speedily devoured it. 

" Now," said Hun-Apu, " let us go toward that 


great mountain and see if you can lift it as you 
boast/ ' 

But already Cabrakan began to feel strange pangs. 

" What is this ? " said he, passing his hand across 
his brow. " I do not seem to see the mountain you 

mean. ,, 


" Nonsense," said Hun-Apu. " Yonder it is, see, 
to the east there." 

My eyes seem dim this morning," replied the giant. 
No, it is not that," said Hun-Apu. "You have 
boasted that you could lift this mountain, and now you 
are afraid to try." 

" I tell you," said Cabrakan, " that I have difficulty 
in seeing. Will you lead me to the mountain ? " 

u Certainly," said Hun-Apu, giving him his hand, 
and with several strides they were at the foot of the 

" Now," said Hun-Apu, " see what you can do, 

Cabrakan gazed stupidly at the great mass in front 
of him. His knees shook together so that the sound 
was like the beating of a war-drum, and the sweat 
poured from his forehead and ran in a little stream 
down the side of the mountain. 

" Come," cried Hun-Apu derisively, " are you 
going to lift the mountain or not ? " 

" He cannot," sneered Xbalanque. " I knew he 
could not." 

Cabrakan shook himself into a final effort to regain 
his senses, but all to no purpose. The poison rushed 
through his blood, and with a groan he fell dead 
before the brothers. 

Thus perished the last of the earth-giants of Guate- 
mala, whom Hun-Apu and Xbalanque had been sent 

to destroy. 



The Second Book 

The second book of the Popol Vuh outlines the 
history of the hero-gods Hun-Apu and Xbalanque. 
We are told that Xpiyacoc and Xmucane, the father 
and mother gods, had two sons, Hunhun-Apu and 
Vukub-Hunapu, the first of whom had by his wife 
Xbakiyalo two sons, Hunbatz and Hunchouen. The 
weakness of the whole family was the native game of 
ball, possibly the Mexican- Mayan game of tlachtli y a 
sort of hockey. To this pastime the natives of Central 
America were greatly addicted, and numerous remains 
of tlachtli courts are to be found in the ruined cities of 
Yucatan and Guatemala. The object of the game was 
to " putt " the ball through a small hole in a circular 
stone or goal, and the player who succeeded in doing 
this might demand from the audience all their clothes 
and jewels. The game, as we have said, was exceed- 
ingly popular in ancient Central America, and there is 
good reason to believe that inter-city matches took 
place between the various city-states, and were accom- 
panied by a partisanship and rivalry as keen as that 
which finds expression among the crowd at our principal 
football matches to-day. 

A Challenge from Hades 

On one occasion Hunhun-Apu and Vukub-Hunapu 
played a game of ball which in its progress took them 
into the vicinity of the realm of Xibalba (the Kiche 
Hades). The rulers of that drear abode, imagining 
that they had a chance of capturing the brothers, 
extended a challenge to them to play them at ball, 
and this challenge Hun-Came and Vukub-Came, the 
sovereigns of the Kiche Hell, despatched by four 
messengers in the shape of owls. The brothers 


The Princess and the Gourds 
Gilbert James 




accepted the challenge, and, bidding farewell to their 
mother Xmucane and their respective sons and 
nephews, followed the feathered messengers down the 
long hill which led to the Underworld. 

The Fooling of the Brethren 

The American Indian is grave and taciturn. If 
there is one thing he fears and dislikes more than 
another it is ridicule. To his austere and haughty 
spirit it appears as something derogatory to his 
dignity, a slur upon his manhood. The hero-brothers 
had not been long in Xibalba when they discovered 
that it was the intention of the Lords of Hades to 
fool them and subject them to every species of in- 
dignity. After crossing a river of blood, they came to 
the palace of the Lords of Xibalba, where they espied 
two seated figures in front of them. Thinking that 
they recognised in them Hun-Came and Vukub-Came, 
they saluted them in a becoming manner, only to dis- 
cover to their mortification that they were addressing 
figures of wood. This incident excited the ribald jeers 
of the Xibalbans, who scoffed at the brothers. Next 
they were invited to sit on the seat of honour, which 
they found to their dismay to be a red-hot stone, a 
circumstance which caused unbounded amusement to 
the inhabitants of the Underworld. Then they were 
imprisoned in the House of Gloom, where they were 
sacrificed and buried. The head of Hunhun-Apu was, 
however, suspended from a tree, upon the branches of 
which grew a crop of gourds so like the dreadful 
trophy as to be indistinguishable from it. The flat 
went forth that no one in Xibalba must eat of the fruit 
of that tree. But the Lords of Xibalba had reckoned 
without feminine curiosity and its unconquerable love 
of the forbidden. 

22 1 


The Princess Xquiq 

One day — if day ever penetrated to that gloomy 
and unwholesome place — a princess of Xibalba called 
Xquiq (Blood), daughter of Cuchumaquiq, a notability 
of Xibalba, passed under the tree, and, observing the 
desirable fruit with which it was covered, stretched out 
her hand to pluck one of the gourds. Into the out- 
stretched palm the head of Hunhun-Apu spat, and 
told Xquiq that she would become a mother. Before 
she returned home, however, the hero-god assured 
her that no harm would come to her, and that 
she must not be afraid. In a few months* time the 
princess's father heard of her adventure, and she 
was doomed to be slain, the royal messengers of 
Xibalba, the owls, receiving commands to despatch her 
and to bring back her heart in a vase. But on the way 
she overcame the scruples of the owls by splendid 
promises, and they substituted for her heart the 
coagulated sap of the bloodwort plant. 

The Birth of Hun-Apu and Xbalanque 

Xmucane, left at home, looked after the welfare, of 
the young Hunbatz and Hunchouen, and thither, at 
the instigation of the head of Hunhun-Apu, went 
Xquiq for protection. At first Xmucane would not 
credit her story, but upon Xquiq appealing to the 
gods a miracle was performed on her behalf, and she 
was permitted to gather a basket of maize where no 
maize grew to prove the authenticity of her claim. As 
a princess of the Underworld, it is not surprising that 
she should be connected with such a phenomenon, as 
it is from deities of that region that we usually expect 
the phenomena of growth to proceed. Shortly after- 
wards, when she had won the good graces of the aged 

22 2 

The Princess who made Friends of the Owls 
Gilbert James 




Xmucane, her twin sons were born, the Hun-Apu and 
Xbalanque whom we have already met as the central 
figures of the first book. 

The Divine Children 

But the divine children were both noisy and mis- 
chievous. They tormented their venerable grand- 
mother with their shrill uproar and tricky behaviour. 
At last Xmucane, unable to put up with their habits, 
turned them out of doors. They took to an outdoor 
life with surprising ease, and soon became expert hunters 
and skilful in the use of the serbatana (blow-pipe), with 
which they shot birds and small animals. They were 
badly treated by their half-brothers Hunbatz and 
Hunchouen, who, jealous of their fame as hunters, 
annoyed them in every possible manner. But the 
divine children retaliated by turning their tormentors 
into hideous apes. The sudden change in the appear- 
ance of her grandsons caused Xmucane the most 
profound grief and dismay, and she begged that they 
who had brightened her home with their singing 
and flute-playing might not be condemned to such a 
dreadful fate. She was informed by the divine 
brothers that if she could behold their antics unmoved 
by mirth her wish would be granted. But the capers 
they cut and their grimaces caused her such merriment 
that on three separate occasions she was unable to 
restrain her laughter, and the men-monkeys took their 

The Magic Tools 

The childhood of Hun-Apu and Xbalanque was full 
of such episodes as might be expected from these beings. 
We find, for example, that on attempting to clear a 
milpa (maize plantation) they employed magic tools 



which could be trusted to undertake a good day's 
work whilst they were absent at the chase. Returning 
at night, they smeared soil over their hands and faces, 
for the purpose of deluding Xmucane into the belief 
that they had been toiling all day in the fields. But 
the wild beasts met in conclave during the night, and 
replaced all the roots and shrubs which the magic tools 
had cleared away. The twins recognised the work of 
the various animals, and placed a large net on the 
ground, so that if the creatures came to the spot on 
the following night they might be caught in its folds. 
They did come, but all made good their escape save 
the rat. The rabbit and deer lost their tails, how- 
ever, and that is why these animals possess no caudal 
appendages ! The rat, in gratitude for their sparing its 
life, told the brothers the history of their father and 
uncle, of their heroic efforts against the powers of 
Xibalba, and of the existence of a set of clubs and 
balls with which they might play tlachtli on the ball- 
ground at Ninxor-Carchah, where Hunhun-Apu and 
Vukub-Hunapu had played before them. 

The Second Challenge 

But the watchful Hun-Came and Vukub-Came soon 
heard that the sons and nephews of their first victims 
had adopted the game which had led these last into the 
clutches of the cunning Xibalbans, and they resolved 
to send a similar challenge to Hun-Apu and Xbalanque, 
thinking that the twins were unaware of the fate of 
Hunhun-Apu and Vukub-Hunapu. They therefore 
despatched messengers to the home of Xmucane with a 
challenge to play them at the ball-game, and Xmucane, 
alarmed by the nature of the message, sent a louse to 
warn her grandsons. The louse, unable to proceed as 

quickly as he wished, permitted himself to be swallowed 



by a toad, the toad by a serpent, and the serpent by 
the bird Voc, the messenger of Hurakan. At the end 
of the journey the other animals duly liberated each 
other, but the toad could not rid himself of the louse, 
who had in reality hidden himself in the toad's gums, 
and had not been swallowed at all. At last the mes- 
sage was delivered, and the twins returned to the abode 
of Xmucane, to bid farewell to their grandmother and 
mother. Before leaving they each planted a cane in 
the midst of the hut, saying that it would wither if 
any fatal accident befell them. 

The Tricksters Tricked 

They then proceeded to Xibalba, on the road 
trodden by Hunhun-Apu and Vukub-Hunapu, and 
passed the river of blood as the others had done. But 
they adopted the precaution of despatching ahead an 
animal called Xan as a sort of spy or scout. They com- 
manded this animal to prick all the Xibalbans with a 
hair from Hun-Apu's leg, in order that they might 
discover which of them were made of wood, and 
incidentally learn the names of the others as they 
addressed one another when pricked by the hair. They 
were thus enabled to ignore the wooden images on 
their arrival at Xibalba, and they carefully avoided the 
red-hot stone. Nor did the ordeal of the House of 
Gloom affright them, and they passed through it 
scatheless. The inhabitants of the Underworld were 
both amazed and furious with disappointment. To 
add to their annoyance, they were badly beaten in 
the game of ball which followed. The Lords of Hell 
then requested the twins to bring them four bouquets 
of flowers from the royal garden of Xibalba, at the 
same time commanding the gardeners to keep good 

watch over the flowers so that none of them might be 

» 2*5 


removed. But the brothers called to their aid a 
swarm of ants, who succeeded in returning with the 
flowers. The anger of the Xibalbans increased to 
a white fury, and they incarcerated Hun-Apu and 
Xbalanque in the House of Lances, a dread abode 
where demons armed with sharp spears thrust at them 
fiercely. But they bribed the lancers and escaped. 
The Xibalbans slit the beaks of the owls who guarded 
the royal gardens, and howled in fury. 

The Houses of the Ordeals 

They were next thrust into the House or Cold. 
Here they escaped a dreadful death from freezing by 
warming themselves with burning pine-cones. Into 
the House of Tigers and the House of Fire they were 
thrown for a night each, but escaped from both. But 
they were not so lucky in the House of Bats. As 
they threaded this place of terror, Camazotz, Ruler of 
the Bats, descended upon them with a whirring of 
leathern wings, and with one sweep of his sword-like 
claws cut off Hun-Apu's head. (See Mictlan, pp. 95, 96.) 
But a tortoise which chanced to pass the severed neck 
of the hero's prostrate body and came into contact with 
it was immediately turned into a head, and Hun-Apu 
arose from his terrible experience not a whit the worse. 

These various houses in which the brothers were 
forced to pass a' certain time forcibly recall to our 
minds the several circles of Dante's Hell. Xibalba 
was to the Kiche not a place of punishment, but a dark 
place of horror and myriad dangers. No wonder the 
Maya had what Landa calls "an immoderate fear of 
death " if they believed that after it they would be 
transported to such a dread abode ! 

With the object of proving their immortal nature 
to their adversaries, Hun-Apu and Xbalanque, first 

In the House of Bats 

William Sewell 




arranging for their resurrection with two sorcerers, 
Xulu and Pacaw, stretched themselves upon a bier and 
died. Their bones were ground to powder and thrown 
into the river. They then went through a kind 
of evolutionary process, appearing on the fifth day 
after their deaths as men-fishes and on the sixth as old 
men, ragged and tatterdemalion in appearance, killing 
and restoring each other to life. At the request of the 
princes of Xibalba, they burned the royal palace and 
restored it to its pristine splendour, killed and resusci- 
tated the king's dog, and cut a man in pieces, bring- 
ing him to life again. The Lords of Hell were curious 
about the sensation of death, and asked to be killed 
and resuscitated. The first portion of their request the 
hero-brothers speedily granted, but did not deem it 
necessary to pay any regard to the second. 

Throwing off all disguise, the brothers assembled 
the now thoroughly cowed princes of Xibalba, and 
announced their intention of punishing them for their 
animosity against themselves, their father and uncle. 
They were forbidden to partake in the noble and classic 
game of ball — a great indignity in the eyes of Maya of 
the higher caste — they were condemned to menial tasks, 
and they were to have sway over the beasts of the 
forest alone. After this their power rapidly waned. 
These princes of the Underworld are described as being 
owl-like, with faces painted black and white, as sym- 
bolical of their duplicity and faithless disposition. 

As some reward for the dreadful indignities they had 
undergone, the souls of Hunhun-Apu and Vukub-Hun- 
apu, the first adventurers into the darksome region of 
Xibalba, were translated to the skies, and became the 
sun and moon, and with this apotheosis the second book 

We can have no difficulty, in the light of comparative 


mythology, in seeing in the matter of this book a 
version of " the harrying of hell " common to many 
mythologies. In many primitive faiths a hero or heroes 
dares the countless dangers of Hades in order to prove 
to the savage mind that the terrors of death can be 
overcome. In Algonquian mythology Blue-Jay makes 
game of the Dead Folk whom his sister Ioi has married, 
and Balder passes through the Scandinavian Helheim. 
The god must first descend into the abyss and must 
emerge triumphant if humble folk are to possess 
assurance of immortality. 

The Reality of Myth 

It is from such matter as that found in the second 
book of the Popol Vuh that we are enabled to discern 
how real myth can be on occasion. It is obvious, as has 
been pointed out, that the dread of death in the savage 
mind may give rise to such a conception of its van- 
quishment as appears in the Popol Vuh. But there is 
reason to suspect that other elements have also entered 
into the composition of the myth. It is well known 
that an invading race, driving before them the remnants 
of a conquered people, are prone to regard these in the 
course of a few generations as almost supernatural and 
as denizens of a sphere more or less infernal. Their 
reasons for this are not difficult of comprehension. To 
begin with, a difference in ceremonial ritual gives rise 
to the belief that the inimical race practises magic. 
The enemy is seldom seen, and, if perceived, quickly 
takes cover or "vanishes." The majority of aboriginal 
races were often earth- or cave-dwellers, like the Picts 
of Scotland, and such the originals of the Xibalbans 
probably were. 

The invading Maya-Kiche, encountering such a folk 
in the cavernous recesses of the hill-slopes of Guatemala , 


would naturally refer them to the Underworld. The 
cliff-dwellings of Mexico and Colorado exhibit manifest 
signs of the existence of such a cave-dwelling race. In 
the latter state is the Cliff Palace Canon, a huge natural 
recess, within which a small city was actually built, 
which still remains in excellent preservation. In some 
such semi-subterranean recess, then, may the city of 
" Xibalba " have stood. 

The Xibalbans 

We can see, too, that the Xibalbans were not merely a 
plutonic race. Xibalba is not a Hell, a place of punish- 
ment for sin, but a place of the dead, and its inhabitants 
were scarcely " devils," nor evil gods. The transcriber 
of the Popol Vuh says of them : " In the old times 
they did not have much power. They were but 
annoyers and opposers of men, and, in truth, they were 
not regarded as gods." The word Xibalba is derived 
from a root meaning "to fear," from which comes the 
name for a ghost or phantom. Xibalba was thus the 
"Place of Phantoms." 

The Third Book 

The opening of the third book finds the gods once 
more deliberating as to the creation of man. Four 
men are evolved as the result of these deliberations. 
These beings were moulded from a paste of yellow and 
white maize, and were named Balam-Quitze (Tiger with 
the Sweet Smile), Balam-Agab (Tiger of the Night), 
Mahacutah (The Distinguished Name), and Iqi-Balam 
(Tiger of the Moon). 

But the god Hurakan who had formed them was not 

overpleased with his handiwork, for these beings were 

too much like the gods themselves. The gods once more 

took counsel, and agreed that man must be less perfect 



and possess less knowledge than this new race. He 
must not become as a god. So Hurakan breathed a 
cloud over their eyes in order that they might only see 
a portion of the earth, whereas before they had been 
able to see the whole round sphere of the world. After 
this the four men were plunged into a deep sleep, and 
four women were created, who were given them as 
wives. These were Caha-Paluma (Falling Water), 
Choima (Beautiful Water), Tzununiha (House of the 
Water), and Cakixa (Water of Parrots, or Brilliant 
Water), who were espoused to the men in the re- 
spective order given above. 

These eight persons were the ancestors of the Kiche 
only, after which were created the forerunners of the 
other peoples. At this time there was no sun, and com- 
parative darkness lay over the face of the earth. Men 
knew not the art of worship, but blindly lifted their 
eyes to heaven and prayed the Creator to send them quiet 
lives and the light of day. But no sun came, and dis- 
peace entered their hearts. So they journeyed to a 
place called Tulan-Zuiva (The Seven Caves) — practi- 
cally the same as Chicomoztoc in the Aztec myth — 
and there gods were vouchsafed to them. The 
names of these were Tohil, whom Balam-Quitze re- 
ceived ; Avilix, whom Balam - Agab received ; and 
Hacavitz, granted to Mahacutah. Iqi-Balam received 
a god, but as he had no family his worship and 
knowledge died out. 

The Granting of Fire 

Grievously did the Kiche feel the want of fire in the 
sunless world they inhabited, but this the god Tohil 
(The Rumbler, the Fire-god) quickly provided them 
with. However, a mighty rain descended and extin- 
guished all the fires in the land. These, however, 

How the Sun appeared like the Moon 
Gilbert James 




were always supplied again by Tohil, who had only to 
strike his feet together to produce fire. In this figure 
there is no difficulty in seeing a fully developed 

The Kiche Babel 

Tulan-Zuiva was a place or great misfortune to the 
Kiche, for here the race suffered alienation in its 
different branches by reason of a confounding of their 
speech, which recalls the story of Babel. Owing to 
this the first four men were no longer able to compre- 
hend each other, and determined to leave the place of 
their mischance and to seek the leadership of the god 
Tohil into another and more fortunate sphere. In this 
journey they met with innumerable hardships. They had 
to cross many lofty mountains, and on one occasion had 
to make a long detour across the bed of the ocean, the 
waters of which were miraculously divided to permit 
of their passage. At last they arrived at a mountain 
which they called Hacavitz, after one of their deities, 
and here they remained, for it had been foretold that 
here they should see the sun. At last the luminary 
appeared. Men and beasts went wild with delight* 
although his beams were by no means strong, and he 
appeared more like a reflection in a mirror than the 
strong sun of later days whose fiery beams speedily 
sucked up the blood of victims on the altar. As he 
showed his face the three tribal gods of the Kiche 
were turned into stone, as were the gods or totems 
connected with the wild animals. Then arose the first 
Kiche town, or permanent dwelling-place. 

The Last Days of the First Men 

Time passed, and the first men of the Kiche race 
grew old. Visions came to them, in which they were 



exhorted by the gods to render human sacrifices, and in 
order to obey the divine injunctions they raided the 
neighbouring lands, the folk of which made a spirited 
resistance. But in a great battle the Kiche were 
miraculously assisted by a horde of wasps and hornets, 
which flew in the faces of their foes, stinging and 
blinding them, so that they could not wield weapon 
nor see to make any effective resistance. After this 
battle the surrounding races became tributary to them. 

Death of the First Men 

Now the first men felt that their death-day was nigh, 
and they called their kin and dependents around them 
to hear their dying words. In the grief of their souls 
they chanted the song " Kamucu," the song " We see," 
that they had sung so joyfully when they had first seen 
the light of day. Then they parted from their wives 
and sons one by one. And of a sudden they were not, 
and in their place was a great bundle, which was never 
opened. It was called the " Majesty En veloped." So 
died the first men of the Kiche. 

In this book it is clear that we have to deal with the 
problem which the origin and creation of man pre- 
sented to the Maya-Kiche mind. The several myths 
connected with it bear a close resemblance to those of 
other American peoples. In the mythology of the 
American Indian it is rare to find an Adam, a single 
figure set solitary in a world without companionship of 
some sort. Man is almost invariably the child of 
Mother Earth, and emerges from some cavern or sub- 
terranean country fully grown and fully equipped for 
the upper earth-life. V^ fi-ncl this type of myth in 
tjie^mytholo cries of th e^ Aztecs, Peruvians,-Xhoctaws, 
Blackfe et India ns, and those of many other American 


American Migrations 

We also find in the story of the Kiche migration 
a striking similarity to the migration myths of other 
American races. But in the Kiche myth we can trace a 
definite racial movement from the cold north to the warm 
south. The sun is not at first born. There is darkness. 
When he does appear he is weak and his beams are 
dull an<J watery like those of the luminary in a 
northern clime. Again, there are allusions to the 
crossing of rivers by means of " shining sand" which 
covered them, which might reasonably be held to 
imply the presence upon them of ice. In this con- 
nection we may quote from an Aztec migration 
myth which appears almost a parallel to the Kiche 

" This is the beginning of the record of the coming 
of the Mexicans from the place called Aztlan. It is 
by means of the water that they came this way, being 
four tribes, and in coming they rowed in boats. They 
built their huts on piles at the place called the grotto 
of Quineveyan. It is there from which the eight tribes 
issued. The first tribe is that of the Huexotzincos, 
the second the Chalcas, the third the Xochimilcos, the 
fourth the Cuitlavacas, the fifth the Mallinalcas, the 
sixth the Chichimecas, the seventh the Tepanecas, 
the eighth the Matlatzincas. It is there where they 
were founded in Colhuacan. They were the colonists 
of it since they landed there, coming from Aztlan. 
. . . It is there that they soon afterwards went away 
from, carrying with them their god Vitzillopochtli. 
. . . There the eight tribes opened up^our road by 

The " Wallum Olum," or painted calendar records, 
of the Leni-Lenape Indians contain a similar myth. 



"After the flood," says the story, " the Lenape with the 
manly turtle beings dwelt close together at the cave 
house and dwelling of Talli. . . . They saw that the 
snake-land was bright and wealthy. Having all 
agreed, they went over the water of the frozen sea to 
possess the land. It was wonderful when they all 
went over the smooth deep water of the frozen sea at 
the gap of the snake sea in the great ocean. " 

Do these myths contain any essence of the truth ? 
Do they refer to an actual migration when the 
ancestors of certain American tribes crossed the frozen 
ocean of the Kamchatka Strait and descended from 
the sunless north and the boreal night of these sub- 
Arctic regions to a more genial clime ? Can such a 
tradition have been preserved throughout the countless 
ages which must have passed between the arrival of 
proto-Mongolian man in America and the writing or 
composition of the several legends cited ? Surely not. 
But may there not have been later migrations from the 
north ? May not hordes of folk distantly akin to the 
first Americans have swept across the frozen strait, and 
within a few generations have made their way into the 
warmer regions, as we know the Nahua did ? The 
Scandinavian vikings who reached north-eastern 
America in the tenth century found there a race 
totally distinct from the Red Man, and more ap- 
proaching the Esquimaux, whom they designated 
Skrellingr, or " Chips," so small and misshapen were 
they. Such a description could hardly have been 
applied to the North American Indian as we know 
him. From the legends of the Red race of North 
America we may infer that they remained for a number 
of generations in the Far West of the North American 
continent before they migrated eastward. And a 
guess might be hazarded to the effect that, arriving in 


America somewhere about the dawn of the Christian 
era, they spread slowly in a south-easterly direction, 
arriving in the eastern parts of North America about 
the end of the eleventh century, or even a little later. 
This would mean that such a legend as that which we 
have just perused would only require to have survived 
a thousand years, provided the Popol Vuh was first 
composed about the eleventh century, as appears 
probable. But such speculations are somewhat dan- 
gerous in the face of an almost complete lack of 
evidence, and must be met with the utmost caution 
and treated as surmises only. 

Cosmogony of the "Popol Vuh" 

We have now completed our brief survey of the 
mythological portion of the Popol Vuh^ and it will be 
well at this point to make some inquiries into the 
origin and nature of the various gods, heroes, and 
similar personages who fill its pages. Before doing 
so, however, let us glance at the creation-myth which 
we find detailed in the first book. We can see by 
internal evidence that this must be the result of the 
fusion of more than one creation-story. We find in the 
myth that mention is made of a number of beings each 
of whom appears to exercise in some manner the func- 
tions of a creator or " moulder." These beings also 
appear to have similar attributes. There is evidently here 
the reconciliation of early rival faiths. We know that this 
occurred in Peruvian cosmogony, which is notoriously 
composite, and many another mythology, European 
and Asiatic, exhibits a like phenomenon. Even in the 
creation-story as given in Genesis we can discover the 
fusion of two separate accounts from the allusion to 
the creative power as both " Jahveh " and " Elohim," 
the plural ending of the second name proving 

2 35 


the presence of polytheistic as well as monotheistic 

Antiquity of the "Popol Vuh " 

These considerations lead to the assumption that the 
Popol Vuh is a mythological collection of very consider- 
able antiquity, as the fusion of religious beliefs is a 
comparatively slow process. It is, of course, in the 
absence of other data, impossible to fix the date of its 
origin, even approximately. We possess only the one 
version of this interesting work, so that we are com- 
pelled to confine ourselves to the consideration of that 
alone, and are without the assistance which philology 
would lend us by a comparison of two versions of 
different dates. 

The Father'Mother Gods 

We discover a pair of dual beings concerned in the 
Kiche creation. These are Xpiyacoc and Xmucane, 
the Fat her- Mot her deities, and are obviously Kiche 
equivalents to the Mexican Ometecutli-Omeciuatl, 
whom we have already noticed (pp. 103-4). The former 
is the male fructifier, whilst the name of the latter 
signifies " Female Vigour." These deities were 
probably regarded as hermaphroditic, as numerous 
North American Indian gods appear to be, and may 
be analogous to the " Father Sky " and " Mother 
Earth " of so many mythologies. 


W r e also find Gucumatz concerned in the Kiche 
scheme of creation. He was a Maya-Kiche form of 
the Mexican Quetzalcoatl, or perhaps the converse 
was the case. The name signifies, like its Nahua 
equivalent, " Serpent with Green Feathers." 
> 3 6 



Hurakan, the wind-god, " He who hurls below," 
whose name perhaps signifies "The One-legged, " is 
probably the same as the Nahua Tezcatlipoca. It has 
been suggested that the word " hurricane ' has been 
evolved from the name of this god, but the derivation 
seems rather too fortuitous to be real. Hurakan had 
the assistance of three sub-gods, Cakulha-Hurakan 
(Lightning), Chipi-Cakulha (Lightning-flash), and 
Raxa-Cakulha (Track of the Lightning). 

Hun'Apu and Xbalanque 

Hun-Apu and Xbalanque, the hero-gods, appear 
to have the attributes of demi-gods in general. The 
name Hun-Apu means " Master " or " Magician," and 
Xbalanque " Little Tiger. ' We find many such figures 
in American myth, which is rich in hero-gods. 

Vukub'Cakix and his Sons 

Vukub-Cakix and his progenv are, of course, earth- 
giants like the Titans of Greek mytnology or the jGtuns 
of Scandinavian story. The removal of the emerald 
teeth of Vukub-Cakix and their replacement by grains 
of maize would seem to be a mythical interpretation or 
allegory of the removal of the virgin turf of the earth 
and its replacement by maize-seed. Therefore it is 
possible that Vukub-Cakix is an earth-god, and not a 
prehistoric sun-and-moon god, as stated by Dr. Seler. 1 


Metrical Origin of the " Popol Vuh 

There is reason to believe that the Popol Vuh was 
originally a metrical composition. This would assist the 

1 See my remarks on this subject in The Popol Vuh^ pp. 41, 52 
(London, 1908). 


hypothesis of its antiquity, on the ground that it was 
for generations recited before being reduced to writing. 
Passages here and there exhibit a decided metrical 
tendency, and one undoubtedly applies to a descriptive 
dance symbolical of sunrise. It is as follows : 

"'Ama x-u ch'ux ri Vuch?' 

* Ve,' x-cha ri mama. 
Ta chi xaquinic. 

Quate ta chi gecumarchic. 

Cahmul xaquin ri mama. 

'Ca xaquin- Vuch,' ca cha vinak vacamic." 

This may be rendered freely : 

" * Is the dawn about to be ? ' 

* Yes,' answered the old man. 
Then he spread apart his legs. 
Again the darkness appeared. 

Four times the old man spread his legs. 

* Now the opossum spreads his legs/ 
Say the people." 

It is obvious that many of these lines possess the 
well-known quality of savage dance-poetry, which dis- 
plays itself in a rhythm of one long foot followed by 
two short ones. We know that the Kiche were very 
fond of ceremonial dances, and of repeating long chants 
which they called nugum tzi/i, or " garlands of words," 
and the Popol Vuh^ along with other matter, probably 
contained many of these. 

PseudcKistory of the Kiche 

The fourth book of the Popoi Vuh contains the 
pseudo-history of the Kiche kings. It is obviously 
greatly confused, and it would be difficult to say how 
much of it originally belonged to the Popol Vuh and 
how much had been added or invented by its latest 
compiler. One cannot discriminate between saga and 


history, or between monarchs and gods, the real and 
the fabulous. Interminable conflicts are the theme of 
most of the book, and many migrations are recounted. 

Queen Moo 

Whilst dealing with Maya pseudo-history it will be 
well to glance for a moment at the theories of the late 
Augustus Le Plongeon, who lived and carried on 
excavations in Yucatan for many years. Dr. Le Plon- 
geon was obsessed with the idea that the ancient Maya 
spread their civilisation all over the habitable globe, 
and that they were the originators of the Egyptian, 
Palestinian, and Hindu civilisations, besides many 
others. He furthermore believed himself to be the 
true elucidator of the Maya system of hieroglyphs, 
which in his estimation were practically identical with 
the Egyptian. We will not attempt to refute his 
theories, as they are based on ignorance of the laws 
which govern philology, anthropology, and mythology. 
But he possessed a thorough knowledge of the Maya 
tongue, and his acquaintance with Maya customs was 
extensive and peculiar. One of his ideas was that a 
certain hall among the ruins of Chichen-Itza had been 
built by a Queen Moo, a Maya princess who after the 
tragic fate of her brother-husband and the catastrophe 
which ended in the sinking of the continent of Atlantis 
fled to Egypt, where she founded the ancient Egyptian 
civilisation. It would be easy to refute this theory. 
But the tale as told by Dr. Le Plongeon possesses a 
sufficiency of romantic interest to warrant its being- 
rescued from the little-known volume in which he 
published it. 1 

We do not learn from Dr. Le Plongeon's book by 
what course of reasoning he came to discover that the 
1 Queen Moo and tie Egyptian Sphinx (London, 1896). 



name of his heroine was the rather uneuphonious one 
of Moo. Probably he arrived at it by the same pro- 
cess as that by which he discovered that certain Mayan 
architectural ornaments were in reality Egyptian letters. 
But it will be better to let him tell his story in his own 
words. It is as follows : 

The Funeral Chamber 

" As we are about to enter the funeral chamber hal- 
lowed by the love of the sister-wife, Queen Moo, the 
beauty of the carvings on the zapote beam that forms 
the lintel of the doorway calls our attention. Here is 
represented the antagonism of the brothers Aac and 
Coh, that led to the murder or the latter by the 
former. Carved on the lintel are the names of these 
personages, represented by their totems — a leopard head 
for Coh, and a boar head as well as a turtle for Aac, 
this word meaning both boar and turtle in Maya. Aac 
is pictured within the disk of the sun, his protective 
deity which he worshipped, according to mural inscrip- 
tions at Uxmal. Full of anger he faces his brother. 
In his right hand there is a badge ornamented with 
feathers and flowers. The threatening way in which 
this is held suggests a concealed weapon. . . . The 
face of Coh also expresses anger. With him is the 
feathered serpent, emblematic of royalty, thence of the 
country, more often represented as a winged serpent 
protecting Coh. In his left hand he holds his weapon 
down, whilst his right hand clasps his badge of 
authority, with which he covers his breasts as for pro- 
tection, and demanding the respect due to his rank. . . . 

" Passing between the figures of armed chieftains 
sculptured on the jambs of the doorway, and seeming 
like sentinels guarding the entrance of the funeral 
chamber, we notice one wearing a headdress similar to 

Queen Moo has her Destiny foretold 
Gilbert James 



the crown of Lower Egypt, which formed part of the 
pshent of the Egyptian monarchs. 

The Frescoes 

" The frescoes : n the funeral chamber of Prince Coh's 
Memorial Hall, painted in water-colours taken from 
the vegetable kingdom, are divided into a series of 
tableaux separated by blue lines. The plinths, the 
angles of the room, and the edges of the ceiling, being 
likewise painted blue, indicate that this was intended 
for a funeral chamber. . . . The first scene represents 
Queen Moo while yet a child. She is seated on the 
back of a peccary, or American wild boar, under the 
royal umbrella of feathers, emblem of royalty in 
Mayach, as it was in India, Chaldea, and other places. 
She is consulting a h-rnen y or wise man ; listening with 
profound attention to the decrees of fate as revealed 
by the cracking of the shell of an armadillo exposed 
to a slow fire on a brazier, the condensing on it of 
the vapour, and the various tints it assumes. This 
mode of divination is one of the customs of the 
Mayas. . . • 

The Soothsayers 

"In front of the young Queen M6o, and facing her, 
is seated the soothsayer, evidently a priest of high rank, 
judging from the colours, blue and yellow, of the 
feathers of his ceremonial mantle. He reads the 
decrees of fate on the snell of the armadillo, and the 
scroll issuing from his throat says what they are. By 
him stands the winged serpent, emblem and protective 
genius of the Maya Empire. His head is turned 
towards the royal banner, which he seems to caress. 
His satisfaction is reflected in the mild and pleased 
expression of his face. Behind the priest, the position 

Q M- 1 


of whose hand is the same as that of Catholic priests 
in blessing their congregation, and the significance of 
which is well known to occultists, are the ladies-in- 
waiting of the young Queen. 

The Royal Bride 

" In another tableau we again see Queen M6o, no 
longer a child, but a comely young woman. She is 
not seated under the royal umbrella or banner, but she 
is once more in the presence of the h-men y whose face 
is concealed by a mask representing an owl's head. 
She, pretty and coquettish, has many admirers, who 
vie with each other for the honour of her hand. In 
company with one of her wooers she comes to consult 
the priest, accompanied by an old lady, her grand- 
mother probably, and her female attendants. According 
to custom the old lady is the spokeswoman. She states 
to the priest that the young man, he who sits on a low 
stool between two female attendants, desires to marry 
the Queen. The priest's attendant, seated also on a 
stool, back of all, acts as crier, and repeats in a loud 
voice the speech of the old lady. 

Moo's Refusal 

"The young Queen refuses the offer. The refusal 
is indicated by the direction of the scroll issuing from 
her mouth. It is turned backward, instead of forward 
towards the priest, as would be the case if she assented 
to the marriage. The h-men explains that Moo, being 
a daughter of the royal family, by law and custom 
must marry one of her brothers. The youth listens to 
the decision with due respect to the priest, as shown 
by his arm being placed across his breast, the left hand 
resting on the right shoulder. He does not accept the 








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refusal in a meek spirit, however. His clenched fist, 
his foot raised as in the act of stamping, betoken anger 
and disappointment, while the attendant behind him 
expostulates, counselling patience and resignation, 
judging by the position and expression of her left- 
hand palm upward. 

The Rejected Suitor 

" In another tableau we see the same individual 
whose offer of marriage was rejected by the young 
Queen in consultation with a nubchi, or prophet, a 
priest whose exalted rank is indicated by his head- 
dress, and the triple breastplate he wears over his 
mantle of feathers. The consulter, evidently a person 
of importance, has come attended by his hachetail^ or 
confidential friend, who sits behind him on a cushion. 
The expression on the face of the said consulter shows 
that he does not accept patiently the decrees of fate, 
although conveyed by the interpreter in as conciliatory 
a manner as possible. The adverse decision of the 
gods is manifested by the sharp projecting centre part 
of the scroll, but it is wrapped in words as persuasive 
and consoling, preceded by as smooth a preamble as 
the rich and beautiful Maya language permits and 
makes easy. His friend is addressing the prophet's 
assistant. Reflecting the thoughts of his lord, he 
declares that the nubchi s fine discourse and his pre- 
tended reading of the will of the gods are all nonsense, 
and exclaims ' Pshaw ! ' which contemptuous exclama- 
tion is pictured by the yellow scroll, pointed at both 
ends, escaping from his nose like a sneeze. The 
answer of the priest's assistant, evidenced by the 
gravity of his features, the assertive position of his 
hand, and the bluntness of his speech, is evidently 

< It is so !' 



Aac's Fierce Wooing 

" Her brother Aac is madly in love with M6o. He 
is portrayed approaching the interpreter of the will of 
the gods, divested of his garments in token of humility 
in presence of their majesty and of submission to 
their decrees. He comes full of arrogance, arrayed in 
gorgeous attire, and with regal pomp. He comes not 
as a suppliant to ask and accept counsel, but haughty, 
he makes bold to dictate. He is angered fet the refusal 
of the priest to accede to his demand for his sister 
M6o's hand, to whose totem, an armadillo on this 
occasion, he points imperiously. It was on an arma- 
dillo's shell that the fates wrote her destiny when 
consulted by the performance of the Pou ceremony. 
The yellow flames of wrath darting from all over his 
person, the sharp yellow scroll issuing from his mouth, 
symbolise Aac's feelings. The pontiff, however, is 
unmoved by them. In the name of the gods with 
serene mien he denies the request of the proud noble- 
man, as his speech indicates. The winged serpent, 
genius of the country, that stands erect and ireful by 
Aac, is also wroth at his pretensions, and shows in its 
features and by sending its dart through Aac's royal 
banner a decided opposition to them, expressed by the 
ends of his speech r being turned backwards, some of 
them terminating abruptly, others in sharp points. 

Prince Coh 

" Prince Coh sits behind the priest as one of his 
attendants. He witnesses the scene, hears the calnf 
negative answer, sees the anger of his brother and 
rival, smiles at his impotence, is happy at his dis- 
comfiture. Behind him, however, sits a spy who will 

repeat his words, report his actions to his enemy. He 


listens, he watches. The high-priest himself, Cay, 
their elder brother, sees the storm that is brewing 
behind the dissensions of Coh and Aac. He trembles 
at the thought of the misfortunes that will surely 
befall the dynasty of the Cans, of the ruin and misery 
of the country that will certainly follow. Divested of 
his priestly raiment, he comes nude and humble as it 
is proper for men in the presence of the gods, to ask 
their advice how best to avoid the impending calamities. 
The chief of the auspices is in the act of reading their 
decrees on the palpitating entrails of a fish. The sad 
expression on his face, that of humble resignation on 
that of the pontiff, of deferential astonishment on that 
of the assistant, speak of the inevitable misfortunes 
which are to come in the near future. 

" We pass over interesting battle scenes ... in 
which the defenders have been defeated by the Mayas. 
Coh will return to his queen loaded with spoils that he 
will lay at her feet with his glory, which is also hers. 

The Murder of Coh 

"We next see him in a terrible altercation with his 
brother Aac. The figures in that scene are nearly life- 
size, but so much disfigured and broken as to make it 
impossible to obtain good tracings. Coh is portrayed 
without weapons, his fists clenched, looking menacingly 
at his foe, who holds three spears, typical of the three 
wounds he inflicted in his brother's back when he killed 
him treacherously. Coh is now laid out, being pre- 
pared for cremation. His body has been opened at the 
ribs to extract the viscera and heart, which, after being 
charred, are to be preserved in a stone urn with cinnabar, 
where the writer round them in 1875. ^ s sister-wife, 
Queen M60, in sad contemplation of the remains of 
the beloved, . . . kneels at his feet. . . . The winged 



serpent, protective genius of the country, is pictured 
without a head. The ruler of the country has been 
slain. He is dead. The people are without a chief.* ' 

The Widowhood of Moo 

The widowhood of Moo is then said to be portrayed 
in subsequent pictures. Other suitors, among them 
Aac, make their proposals to her, but she refuses them 
all. "Aac's pride being humiliated, his love turned to 
hatred. His only wish henceforth ^as to usurp the 
supreme power, to wage war against the friend of his 
childhood. He made religious disagreement the pre- 
text. He proclaimed that the worship of the sun was 
to be superior to that of the winged serpent, the genius 
of the country ; also to that of the worship of ancestors, 
typified by the feathered serpent, with horns and a flame 
or halo on the head. ... Prompted by such evil pas- 
sions, he put himself at the head of his own vassals, 
and attacked those who had remained faithful to Queen 
Moo and to Prince Coh's memory. At first Moo's 
adherents successfully opposed her foes. The contend- 
ing parties, forgetting in the strife that they were 
children of the same soil, blinded by their prejudices, 
let their passions have the better of their reason. At 
last Queen Moo fell a prisoner in the hands of her 
enemy. ,, 

The Manuscript Troano 

Dr. Le Plongeon here assumes that the story is taken 
up by the Manuscript Troano. As no one is able to 
decipher this manuscript completely, he is pretty safe in 
nis assertion. Here is what the pintura alluded to says 
regarding Queen Moo, according to our author : 

" The people of Mayach having been whipped into 
submission and cowed, no longer opposing much resist* 


ance, the lord seized her by the hair, and, in comn.on 
with others, caused her to suffer from blows. This 
happened on the ninth day of the tenth month of the 
year Kan. Being completely routed, she passed to the 
opposite sea-coast in the southern parts of the country, 
which had already suffered much injury." 

Here we shall leave the Queen, and those who have 
been sufficiently credulous to create and believe in her 
and her companions. We do not aver that the illus- 
trations on the walls of the temple at Chichen do not 
allude to some such incident, or series of incidents, as 
Dr. Le Plongeon describes, but to bestow names upon 
the dramatis persona in the face of almost complete 
inability to read the Maya script and a total dearth of 
accompanying historical manuscripts is merely futile, 
and we must regard Dr. Le Plongeon's narrative as a 
quite fanciful rendering of probability. At the same 
time, the light which he throws — if some obviously 
unscientific remarks be deducted — on the customs of 
the Maya renders his account of considerable interest, 
and that must be our excuse for presenting it here at 
some length. 

Piece of Pottery representing 
Tapir (f«om Guatemala) 



Old Peru 

Mexicans and Maya, it did not fall far short of 
the these peopleJ^/TTftl the degrading 
despotisnTunder which the peasantry groaned in lnca 
times, and the brutal and sanguinary tyranny of the 
Apu-Ccapac Incas, make the rulers of Mexico at their 
worst appear as enlightened when compared with the 
Peruvian governing classes. The Quichua-Aymara 
race which inhabited Peru was inferior to the Mexican 
in general mental culture, if not in mental capacity, is 
is proved by its inability to invent any method of 
written communication or any adequate time-reckoning. 
In imitative art, too, the Peruvians were weak, save in 
pottery and rude modelling, and their religion savoured 
much more of the materialistic, and was altogether of a 
lower cultus. 

The Country 

The country in which the interesting civilisation of 
the lnca race was evolved presents physical features 
which profoundly affected the history of the race. In 
fact, it is probable that in no country in the world has 
the configuration of the land so modified the events in 
the life of the people dwelling within its borders. The 
chain of the Andes divides into two branches near the 
boundary between Bolivia and Chili, and, with the 
Cordillera de la Costa, encloses at a height of over 
3000 feet the Desaguadero, a vast tableland with an 
area equal to France. To the north of this is Cuzco, 

the ancient capital of the Incas, to the south Potosi, 




















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the most elevated town in the world, whilst between 
them lies Lake Titicaca, the largest body of fresh water 
in South America. The whole country is dreary and 
desolate in the extreme. Cereals cannot ripen, and 
animals are rare. Yet it was in these desolate regions 
that the powerful and highly organised empire of Peru 
arose — an empire extending over an area 3000 miles 
long by 400 broad. 

The Andears 

The prehistoric natives of the Andean region had 
evolved a civilisation long before the days of the 
Inca dynasties, and the cyclopean ruins of their 
edifices are to be found at intervals scattered over a 
wide field on the slopes of the range under the shadow 
of which they dwelt. Their most extraordinary 
achievement was probably the city of Tiahuanaco, on 
the southern shore of Lake Titicaca, built at a level 
13,000 feet above the sea, occupying nearly half an 
acre in extent, and constructed of enormous megalithic 
blocks of trachytic rock. The great doorway, carved 
out of a single block of rock, is 7 feet in height by 
*3i ^ eet wide, and 1^ feet thick. The upper portion of 
this massive portal is carved with symbolic figures. In 
the centre is a figure in high relief, the head sur- 
rounded by solar rays, and in each hand a sceptre, the 
end of which terminates in the head of a condor. This 
figure is flanked on either side by three tiers of kneeling 
suppliants, each of whom is winged and bears a sceptre 
similar in design to the central ones. Elsewhere are 
mighty blocks of stone, some 36 feet long, remains of 
enormous walls, standing monoliths, and in earlier 
times colossal statues were seen on the site. When 
the Spanish conquerors arrived no tradition remained 

regarding the founders of these structures, and their 



origin still remains a mystery ; but that they _ rep resent 
the. remains__jof the capital of somej ni ghty prehis toric 
kingdom is practically admitted,. 

A Strange Site 

The greatest mystery of all regarding the ruins at 
Tiahuanaco is the selection of the site. For what 
reason did the prehistoric rulers of Peru build here ? 
The surroundings are totally unsuitable for the raising 
of such edifices, and the tableland upon which they are 
placed is at once desolate and difficult of access. The 
snow-line is contiguous, and breathing at such a height 
is no easy matter. There is no reason to suppose that 
climatic conditions in the day of these colossal builders 
were different from those which obtain at the present 
time. In face of these facts the position of Tiahuanaco 
remains an insoluble riddle. 

Sacsahuaman and Ollantay 

Other remains of these prehistoric people are found 
in various parts of Peru. At Sacsahuaman, perched on 
a hill above the city of Cuzco, is an immense fortified 
work six hundred yards long, built in three lines of wall 
consisting of enormous stones, some of which are twenty- 
seven feet in length. Pissac is also the site of wonder- 
ful ruined masonry and an ancient observatory. At 
Ollantay-tampu, forty-five miles to the north of Cuzco, 
is another of these gigantic fortresses, built to defend 
the valley of the Yucay. This stronghold is constructed 
for the most part of red porphyry, and its walls average 
twenty-five feet in height. The great cliff on which 
Ollantay is perched is covered from end to end with 
stupendous walls which zigzag from point to point of 
it like the salient angles of some modern fortalice. 

At intervals are placed round towers of stone provided 



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with loopholes, from which doubtless arrows were 
discharged at the enemy. This outwork embraces a 
series of terraces, world-famous because of their 
gigantic outline and the problem of the use to which 
they were put. It is now practically agreed that these 
terraces were employed for the production of maize, in 
order that during a prolonged investment the beleaguered 
troops and country-folk might not want for a sufficiency 
of provender. The stone of which this fortress was 
built was quarried at a distance of seven miles, in a 
spot upwards of three thousand feet above the valley, 
and was dragged up the steep declivity of Ollantay by 
sheer human strength. The nicety with which the 
stones were fitted is marvellous. 

The DramaJ-egend of Ollantay 

Among the dramatic works with which the ancient 
Incas were credited is that of Apu-Ollanta^ which may 
recount the veritable story of a chieftain after whom 
the great stronghold was named. It was probably 
divided into scenes and supplied with stage directions 
at a later period, but the dialogue and songs are truly 
aboriginal. The period is that of the reign of the Inca 
Yupanqui Pachacutic, one of the most celebrated of the 
Peruvian monarchs. The central figure of the drama 
is a chieftain named Ollanta, who conceived a violent 
passion for a daughter of the Inca named Curi-Coyllur 
(Joyful Star). This passion was deemed unlawful, as 
no mere subject who was not of the blood-royal might 
aspire to the hand of a daughter of the Inca. As the 
play opens we overhear a dialogue between Ollanta 
and his man-servant Piqui-Chaqui (Flea-footed), who 
supplies what modern stage-managers would designate 
the "comic relief." They are talking of Ollanta's 
love for the princess, when they are confronted by the 


high-priest of the Sun, who tries to dissuade the rash 
chieftain from the dangerous course he is taking by 
means of a miracle. In the next scene Curi-Coyllur is 
seen in company with her mother, sorrowing over the 
absence of her lover. A harvest song is here followed 
by a love ditty of Undoubtedly ancient origin. The 
third scene represents Ollanta's interview with the Inca 
in which he pleads his suit and is slighted by the 
scornful monarch. Ollanta defies the king in a 
resounding speech, with which the first act concludes. 
In the first scene of the second act we are informed 
that the disappointed chieftain has raised the standard 
of rebellion, and the second scene is taken up with the 
military preparations consequent upon the announce- 
ment of a general rising. In the third scene Rumi- 
naui as general of the royal forces admits defeat by the 

The Love-Story of Curi-Coyllur 

Curi-Coyllur gives birth to a daughter, and is 

imprisoned in the darksome Convent of Virgins. 

Her child, Yma Sumac (How Beautiful), is brought 

up in the same building, but is ignorant of the near 

presence of her mother. The little girl tells her 

guardian of groans and lamentations which she has 

heard in the convent garden, and of the tumultuous 

emotions with which these sad sounds fill her heart. 

The Inca Pachacutic's death is announced, and the 

accession of his son, Yupanqui. Rebellion breaks out 

once more, and the suppression of the malcontents is 

a^ain entrusted to Rumi-naui. That leader, having 

tasted defeat already, resorts to cunning. He conceals 

his men in a valley close by, and presents himself 

covered with blood before Ollanta, who is at the 

head of the rebels. He states that he has been 


" Mother and child are united " 
William Sewell 



• * 


barbarously used by the royal troops, and that he 
desires to join the rebels. He takes part with Ollanta 
and his men in a drunken frolic, in which he incites 
them to drink heavily, and when they are overcome 
with liquor he brings up his troops and makes them 

Mother and Child 

Yma Sumac, the beautiful little daughter of Curi- 
Coyllur, requests her guardian, Pitu Salla, so pitifully 
to be allowed to visit her mother in her dungeon that 
the woman consents, and mother and child are united. 
Ollanta is brought as a prisoner before the new Inca, 
who pardons him. At that juncture Yma Sumac enters 
hurriedly, and begs the monarch to free her mother, 
Curi-Coyllur. The Inca proceeds to the prison, restores 
the princess to her lover, and the drama concludes with 
the Inca bestowing his blessing upon the pair. 

The play was first put into written form in the 
seventeenth century, has often been printed, and is 
now recognised as a genuine aboriginal production. 

The Races of Peru 

Many races went to make up the Peruvian people 
as they existed when first discovered by the conquering 
Spaniards. From the south came a civilising race which 
probably found a number of allied tribes, each existing 
separately in its own little valley, speaking a different 
dialect, or even language, from its neighbours, and in 
many instances employing different customs. Although 
tradition alleged that these invaders came from the 
north by sea within historical times, the more probable 
theory of their origin is one which states that they r d 
followed the course of the affluents of the Amazon to 
the valleys where they dwelt when the more enlightened 


folk from the south came upon them. The remains of 
this aboriginal people — for, though they spoke diverse 
languages, the probability is that they were of one or 
not more than two stocks — are still found scattered 
over the coastal valleys in pyramidal mounds and 
adobe-built dwellings. 

The Coming of the Incas 

The arrival of the dominant race rudely broke in 
upon the peaceful existence of the aboriginal folk. 
This race, the Quichua-Aymara, probably had its place 
of origin in the Altaplanicie highlands of Bolivia, the 
eastern cordillera of the Andes. This they designated 
Tucuman (World's End), just as the Kiche of Guate- 
mala were wont to describe the land of their origin as 
Ki Pixab (Corner of the Earth). The present republic 
of Argentina was at a remote period covered by a vast, 
partially land-locked sea, and beside the shores of this 
the ancestors of the Quichua-Aymara race may have 
^settled as fishers and fowlers. They found a more 
permanent settlement on the shores of Lake Titicaca, 
where their traditions state that they made considerable 
advances in the arts of civilisation. It was, indeed, 
from Titicaca that the sun emerged from the sacred 
rock where he had erstwhile hidden himself. Here, 
too, the llama and pa£b were domesticated and agricul- 
tural life initiated, or perfected. The arts of irrigation 
and terrace-building — so marked as features of Peruvian 
civilisation — were also invented in this region, and the 
basis of a composite advancement laid. 

The Quichua-Aymara 

This people consisted of two groups, the Quichua 
and Aymara, so called from the two kindred tongues 
spoken by each respectively. These possess a common 













































grammatical structure, and a great number of words are 
common to both. They are in reality varying forms 
of one speech. From the valley of Titicaca the 
Aymara spread from the source of the Amazon river to 
the higher parts of the Andes range, so that in course 
of time they exhibited those qualities which stamp the 
mountaineer in every age and clime. The Quk*hua, on 
the other hand, occupied the warm valleys beyond the 
river Apurimac, to the north-west of the Aymara-speak- 
ing people — a tract equal to the central portion of the 
modern republic of Peru. The name " Quichua " im- 
plies a warm valley or sphere, in contradistinction to 
the " Yunca," or tropical districts of the coast and low- 

The Four Peoples 

The metropolitan folk or Cuzco considered Peru to 
be divided into four sections — that of the Colla-suyu, 
with the valley of Titicaca as its centre, and stretching 
from the Bolivian highlands to Cuzco ; the Conti-suyu, 
between the Colla-suyu and the ocean ; the Quichua 
Chinchay-suyu, of the north-west ; and the Anti-suyu, 
of the montana region. The Inca people, coming sud- 
denly into these lands, annexed them with surprising 
rapidity, and, making the aboriginal tribes dependent 
upon their 'rule, spread themselves over the face of 
the country. Thus the ancient chroniclers. But it 
is obvious that such rapid conquest was a practical 
impossibility, and it is now understood thnt the Inca 
power was consolidated only some hundred years before 
the coming of Pizarro. 

The C oming of Manco Cca pac 

Peruvian myth has its Quetzalcoatl in Manco Ccapac, 
a veritable son of the sun. The Life-giver, observing 



the deplorable condition of mankind, who seemed to 

exist for war and feasting alone, despatched his son, 

Manco Ccapac, and his sister-wife, Mama Oullo Huaca, 

to earth for the purpose of instructing the degraded 

peoples in the arts of civilised life. The heavenly pair 

came to earth in the neighbourhood of Lake Titicaca, 

and were provided with a golden wedge which they were 

assured would sink into the earth at the precise spot on 

which they should commence their missionary labours. 

This phenomenon occurred at Cuzco, where the wedge 

disappeared. The derivation of the name Cuzco, 

which means " Navel," or, in more modern terms, " Hub 

of the Universe," proves that it was regarded as a great 

culture-centre. On this spot the civilising agents pitched 

their camp, gathering the uncultured folk of the country 

around them. Whilst Manco taught the men the arts 

of agriculture, Mama Oullo instructed the women in 

those of weaving and spinning. Great numbers gathered 

in the vicinity of Cuzco, and the foundations of a city 

were laid. Under the mild rule of the heavenly pair 

the land of Peru abounded in every desirable thing, like 

the Eden of Genesis. The legend of Manco Ccapac 

as we have it from an old Spanish source is worth giving. 

It is as follows : "There [in Tiahuanaco] the creator 

began to raise up the people and nations that are in that 

region, making one of each nation in clay, and painting 

the dresses that each one was to wear ; those that were 

to wear their hair, with hair, and those that were to be 

shorn, with hair cut. And to each nation was given 

the language that was to be spoken, and the songs to 

be sung, and the seeds and food that they were to sow. 

When the creator had finished painting and making the 

said nations and figures of clay, he gave life and soul to 

each one, as well man as woman, and ordered that they 

should pass under the earth. Thence each nation came 


up in the places to which he ordered them to go. Thus 
they say that some came out of caves, others issued from 
hills, others from fountains, others from the trunks of 
trees. From this cause and others, and owing to having 
come forth and multiplied from those places, and to 
having had the beginning of their lineage in them, they 
made huacas 1 and places of worship of them, in memory 
of the origin of their lineage. Thus each nation uses 
the dress with which they invest their huaca ; and they 
say that the first that was born in that place was there 
turned into stone. Others say that they were turned 
into falcons, condors, and other animals and birds. 
Hence the huacas they use are in different shapes." 

The Peruvian Creation'Story 

The lncan Peruvians believed that all things emanated 
from Pachacamac, the all-pervading spirit, who provided 
the plants and animals (which they believed to be pro- 
duced from the earth) with " soulsJl_Tbe--ear-th-itself 
they_designated Pachacamama (Earth-Mother). Here 
we observe that Pachacamac was more the maker and 
moulder than the originator of matter, a view common 
to many American mythologies. Pachacamac it was 
who breathed the breath of life into man, but the 
Peruvian conception of him was only evolved in later 
Inca times, and by no means existed in the early days 
of Inca rule, although he was probably worshipped 
before this under another and less exalted shape. The 
mere exercise of will or thought was sufficient, according 
to the Peruvians, to accomplish the creative act. In 
the prayers to the creator, and in other portions of 
Inca rite, we read such expressions as "Let a man be," 
"Let a woman be," and "The creative word," which eo 
to prove that the Peruvian consciousness had fully 

1 Sacred things. 

I 257 


grasped the. idea of a creator -capable -of-ewlving matter- 
out of nothingness. Occasionally we find the sun acting 
as a kind of demiurge or sub-creator. He it is who 
in later legend founds the city of Cuzco, and sends 
thither three eggs composed of gold, silver, and copper, 
from which spring the three classes of Peruvians, kings, 
priests, and slaves. The inevitable deluge occurs, after 
which we find the prehistoric town of Tiahuanaco re- 
garded as the theatre of a new creation of man. Here 
the creator made man, and separated him into nations, 
making one of each nation out of the clay of the earth, 
painting the dresses that each was to wear, and endow- 
ing them with national songs, languages, seeds to sow 
suitable to the environment of each, and food such as 
they would require. Then he gave the peoples life and 
soul, and commanded them to enter the bowels of the 
earth, whence they came upward in the places where he 
ordered them to go. Perhaps this is one of the most 
complete (" wholesale " would be a better word) creation- 
myths in existence, and we can glean from its very 
completeness that it is by no means of simple origin, 
but of great complexity. It is obviously an attempt to 
harmonise several conflicting creation-stories, notably 
those in which the people are spoken of as emanating 
from caves, and the later one of the creation of men at 
Tiahuanaco, probably suggested to the Incas by the 
immense ruins at that place, for which they could not 
otherwise account. 

Local Creation'Myths 

In some of the more isolated valleys of Peru we 

discover local creation-myths. For example, in the 

coastal valley of Irma Pachacamac was not considered 

to be the creator of the sun, but to be himself a 

descendant of it. The first human beings created by 


Making one of each nation out of the clay of the earth " 

William Sewell 258 



him were speedily separated, as the man died of hunger, 
but the woman supported herself by living on roots. 
The sun took compassion upon her and gave her a son 
whom Pachacamac slew and buried. But from his teeth 
there grew maize, from his ribs the long white roots of the 
manioc plant, and from his flesh various esculent plants. 

The Character of Inca Civilisation 

Apart from the treatment which they meted out to 
the subject races under their sway, the rule of the Inca 
monarchs was enlightened and contained the elements 
of high civilisation. It is scarcely clear whether the 
Inca race arrived in the country at such a date as would 
have permitted them to profit by adopting the arts 
and sciences of the Andean people who preceded them. 
But it may be affirmed that their arrival considerably 
post-dated the fall of the megalithic empire of the 
Andeans, so that in reality their civilisation was of their 
own manufacture. As architects they were by no 
means the inferiors of the prehistoric race, if the 
examples of their art did not bulk so massively, and 
the engineering skill with which they pushed long, 
straight tunnels through vast mountains and bridged 
seemingly impassable gorges still excites the wonder or 
modern experts. They also made long, straight roads 
after the most improved macadamised model. JTheir 
temples and palaces were adorned with gold and silver 
images and ornaments ; sumptuous baths supplied with 
hot and cold water by means of pipes laid in the earth 
were to be found in the mansions of the nobility, and 
much luxury and real comfort prevailed. 


An Absolute Theocracy 

The empire of Peru was the most absolute theocracy 
the world has ever seen. The Inca was the direct 


representative of the sun upon earth, the head of a 
socio-religious edifice intricate and highly organised. 
This colossal bureaucracy had ramifications into the 
very homes of the people. The Inca was represented 
in the provinces by governors of the blood-royal. 
Officials were placed above ten thousand families, a 
thousand families, and even ten families, upon the 
principle that the rays of the sun enter everywhere, and 
that therefore the light of the Inca must penetrate to 
every corner of the empire. There was no such thing 
as personal freedom. Every man, woman, and child 
was numbered, branded, and under surveillance as much 
as were the llamas in the royal herds. Individual effort 
or enterprise was unheard of. Some writers have 
stated that a system of state socialism obtained in Peru. 
If so, then state surveillance in Central Russia might 
also be branded as socialism. A man's life was planned 
for him by the authorities from the age of five years, 
and even the woman whom he was to marry was 
selected for him by the Government officials. The 
age at which the people should marry was fixed at not 
earlier than twenty-four years for a man and eighteen 
for a woman. Coloured ribbons worn round the head 
indicated the place of a person's birth or the province 
to which he belonged. 

A Golden Temple 

One of the most remarkable monuments of the 
Peruvian civilisation was the Coricancha (Town of 
Gold) at Cuzco, the principal fane of the sun-god. 
Its inner and outer walls were covered with plates of 
pure gold. Situated upon an eminence eighty feet 
high, the temple looked down upon gardens filled, 
according to the conquering Spaniards, with treasures of 
gold and silver. The animals, insects, the very trees, 


say the chroniclers, were of the precious metals, as 
were the spades, hoes," and other implements employed 
for keeping the ground in cultivation. Through the 
pleasances rippled the river Huatenay. Such was the 
glittering Intipampa (Field of the Sun). That the story 
is true, at least in part, is proved by the traveller Squier, 
who speaks of having seen in several houses in Cuzco 
sheets of gold preserved as relics which came from 
the Temple of the Sun. These, he says, were scarcely 
as thick as paper, and were stripped off the walls of the 
Coricancha by the exultant Spanish soldiery. 

The Great Altar 

But this house of gold had but a roof of thatch ! 
The Peruvians were ignorant of the principle of the 
arch, or else considered the feature unsuitable, for some 
reason best known to their architects. The doorways 
were formed of huge monoliths, and the entire aspect of 
the building was cyclopean. The interior displayed an 
ornate richness which impressed even the Spaniards, 
who had seen the wealth of many lands and Oriental 
kingdoms, and the gold-lust must have swelled within 
their hearts at sight of the great altar, behind which 
was a huge plate of the shining metal engraved with 
the features of the sun-god. The surface of this plate 
was enriched by a thousand gems, the scintillation of 
which was, according to eye-witnesses, almost insup- 
portable. Around this dazzling sphere were seated 
the mummified corpses of the Inca kings, each on his 
throne, with sceptre in hand. 

Planetary Temples 

Surrounding the Coricancha several lesser temples 

clustered, all of them dedicated to one or other of 

the planetary bodies — to the moon, to Cuycha, the 



rainbow, to Chasca, the planet Venus. In the temple 
of the moon, the mythic mother of the Inca dynasty, a 
great plate of silver, like the golden one which repre- 
sented the face of the sun-god, depicted the features 
of the moon-goddess, and around this the mummies 
of the Inca queens sat in a semicircle, like their 
spouses in the greater neighbouring fane. In the 
rainbow temple of Cuycha the seven-hued arch of 
heaven was depicted by a great arc of gold skilfully 
tempered or painted in suitable colours. All the 
utensils in these temples were of gold or silver. In 
the principal building twelve large jars of silver held 
the sacred grain, and even the pipes which conducted the 
water-supply through the earth to the sanctuary were 
of silver. Pedro Pizarro himself, besides other credible 
eye-witnesses, vouched for these facts. The colossal 
representation of the sun became the property of a cer- 
tain Mancio Serra de Leguicano, a reckless cavalier and 
noted gambler, who lost it on a single throw of the 
dice ! Such was the spirit of the adventurers who con- 
quered this golden realm for the crown of Spain. The 
walls of the Coricancha are still standing, and this 
marvellous shrine of the chief luminary of heaven, the 
great god of the Peruvians, is now a Christian church. 

The Mummies of Peru 

The fact that the ancient Peruvians had a method 
of mummification has tempted many "antiquarians" 
to infer therefrom that they had some connection with 
ancient Egypt. These theories are so numerous as to 
give the unsophisticated reader the idea that a regular 
system of immigration was carried on between Egypt 
and America. As a matter of fact the method of 
mummification in vogue in Peru was entirely diffe- 
rent from that employed by the ancient Egyptians. 

Peruvian mummies are met with at apparently all 
stages of the history of the native races. Megalithic 
tombs and monuments contain them in the doubled- 
up posture so common among early peoples all over 
the world. These megalithic tombs, or chulpas^ as 
they are termed, are composed of a mass of rough 
stones and clay, faced with huge blocks of trachyte 
or basalt, so put together as to form a cist, in which 
the mummy was placed. The door invariably faces 
the east, so that it may catch the gleams of the 
rising sun — a proof of the prevalence of sun-worship. 
Squier alludes to one more than 24 feet high. An 
opening 18 inches square gave access to the sepulchral 
chamber, which was 11 feet square by 13 feet high. 
But the tomb had been entered before, and after getting 
in with much difficulty thr explorer was forced to 
retreat empty-handed. 

Many of these chulfias are circular, and painted in 
gay primary colours. They are very numerous in 
Bolivia, an old Peruvian province, and in the basin of 
Lake Titicaca they abound. The dead were wrapped 
in llama-skins, on which the outlines of the eyes and 
mouth were carefully marked. The corpse was then 
arrayed in other garments, and the door of the tomb 
walled up. In some parts of Peru the dead were 
mummified and placed in the dwelling-houses beside 
the living. In the rarefied air of the plateaus the 
bodies rapidly became innocuous, and the custom was 
not the insanitary one we might imagine it to be. 

On the Pacific coast the method of mummification 

was somewhat different. The body was reduced to a 

complete state of desiccation, and was deposited in 

a tomb constructed of stone or adobe. Vases intended 

to hold maize or chicha liquor were placed beside the 

corpse, and copper hatchets, mirrors of polished stone, 



earrings, and bracelets have been discovered in these 
burial-places. Some of the remains are wrapped in 
rich cloth, and vases of gold and silver were placed 
beside them. Golden plaques are often discovered in 
the mouths, probably symbolic of the sun. The bodies 
exhibit no traces of embalming, and are usually in a 
sitting posture. Some of them have evidently been 
dried before inhumation, whilst others are covered with 
a resinous substance. They are generally accompanied 
by the various articles used during life ; the men have 
their weapons and ornaments, women their household 
implements, and children their toys. The dryness of 
the climate, as in Egypt, keeps these relics in a won- 
derful state of preservation. In the grave of a woman 
were found not only vases of every shape, but also some 
cloth she had commenced to weave, which her death 
had perhaps prevented her from completing. Her light 
brown hair was carefully combed and plaited, and the 
legs from the ankle to the knee were painted red, 
after the fashion in vogue among Peruvian beauties, 
while little bladders of toilet-powder and gums were 
thoughtfully placed beside her for her use in the life 
to come. 

Laws and Customs 

The legal code of the Incas was severe in the ex- 
treme. Murderers and adulterers were punished by 
death, and the unpardonable sin appears to have been 
blasphemy against the sun, or his earthly representa- 
tive, the Inca. The Virgin of the Sun (or nun) who 
broke her vow was buried alive, and the village from 
whence she came was razed to the ground. Flogging 
was administered for minor offences. A peculiar and 
very trying punishment must have been that of carrying 

a heavy stone for a certain time. 


On marriage a home was apportioned to each couple, 
and land assigned to them sufficient for their support. 
When a child was born a separate allowance was given 
it — one fanega for a boy, and half that amount for 
a girl, the fanega being equal to the area which could 
be sown with a hundred pounds of maize. There is 
something repulsive in the Inca code, with its grand- 
motherly legislation ; and if this tyranny was beneficent, 
it was devised merely to serve its own ends and hound 
on the unhappy people under its control like dumb, 
driven cattle. The outlook of the average native was 
limited in the extreme. The Inca class of priests and 
warriors retained every vestige of authority ; and that 
they employed their power unmercifully to grind down 
the millions beneath them was a sufficient excuse 
for the Spanish Conquistadores in dispossessing them 
of the empire they had so harshly administered. 

The public ground was divided afresh every year 
according to the number of the members of each 
family, and agrarian laws were strictly fixed. Private 
property did not exist among the people of the lower 
classes, who merely farmed the lot which each year 
was placed at their disposal. Besides this, the people 
had perforce to cultivate the lands sacred to the Inca, 
and only the aged and the sick could evade this duty. 

The Peruvian Calendar 

The standard chronology known to the Peru of the 
Incas was a simple lunar reckoning. But the four 
principal points in the sun's course were denoted by 
means of the intihuatana^ a device consisting of a large 
rock surmounted by a small cone, the shadow of which, 
falling on certain notches on the stone below, marked 
the date of the great sun-festivals. The Peruvians, 

however, had no definite calendar. At Cuzco, the 



capital, the solstices were gauged by pillars called 
pachacta unanchac, or indicators of time, which were 
placed in four groups (two pillars to a group) on 
promontories, two in the direction of sunrise and two 
in that of sunset, to mark the extreme points of the 
sun's rising and setting. By this means they were 
enabled to distinguish the arrival and departure of the 
solstices, during which the sun never went beyond 
the middle pair of pillars. The Inca astronomer's 
approximation to the year was 360 days, which were 
divided into twelve moons of thirty days each. These 
moons were not calendar months in the correct sense, 
but simply a succession of lunations, which commenced 
with the winter solstice. This method, which must 
ultimately have proved confusing, does not seem to 
have been altered to co-ordinate with the reckoning of 
the succession of years. The names of the twelve 
moons, which had some reference to the daily life of 
the Peruvian, were as follows : 

Huchuy Pucuy Quilla (Small Growing Moon), approximately 

Hatun Pucuy Quilla (Great Growing Moon), approximately 

Pancar Pucuy Quilla (Flower-growing Moon), approximately 

Ayrihua Quilla (Twin Ears Moon), approximately April. 

Aymuray Quilla (Harvest Moon), approximately May. 

Auray Cusqui Quilla (Breaking Soil), approximately June. 

Chahua Huarqui Quilla (Irrigation Moon), approximately July. 

Tarpuy Quilla (Sowing Moon), approximately August. 

Ccoya Raymi Quilla (Moon of the Moon Feast), approximately 

Uma_B^miJ!luilla (Moon of the Feast of the Province of Uma), 
approximately October. 

Ayamarca Raymi Quilla (Moon of the Feast of the Province of 
Ayamarca), approximately November. 

Ccapac Raymi Quilla (Moon of the Great Feast of the Sun) 
approximately Dfgember. 


The Festivals 

That the Peruvian standard of time, as with all 
American people, was taken from the natural course 
of the moon is known chiefly from the fact that the 
principal religious festivals began on the new moon 
following a solstice or equinox. The ceremonies con- 
nected with the greatest festival, the Ccapac Raymi, 
were made to date near the lunar phases, the two 
stages commencing with the ninth day of the December 
moon and twenty-first day, or last quarter. But while 
these lunar phases indicated certain festivals, it very 
often happened that the civil authorities followed a 
reckoning of their own, in preference to accepting 
ecclesiastical rule. Considerable significance was 
attached to each month by the Peruvians regarding 
the nature of their festivals. The solstices and equi- 
noxes were the occasions of established ceremonies. 
The arrival of the winter solstice, which in Peru occurs 
in June, was celebrated by the Intip Raymi (Great 
Feast of the Sun). The principal Peruvian feast, 
which took place at tne summer solstice, when the 
new year was supposed to begin, was the national feast 
of the great god Pachacamac, and was called Ccapac 
Raymi. Molina, Fernandez, and Garcilasso, however, 
date the new year from the winter solstice. The third 
festival of the Inca year, the Ccapac Situa, or Ccoya 
Raymi (Moon Feast), which is signalled by the begin- 
ning of the rainy season, occurred in September. In 
general character these festivals appear to have been 
simple, and even childlike. The sacrifice of animals 
taken from sacred herds of llamas was doubtless a 
principal feature of the ceremony, accompanied by the 
offering up of maguey, or maize spirit, and followed by 

the performance of symbolic dances. 



The Llama 

The llama was the chief domestic animal of Peru. 
All llamas were the property of the Inca. Like the 
camel, its distant relative, this creature can subsist for 
long periods upon little nourishment, and it is suitable 
for the carriage of moderate loads. Each year a certain 
amount of llama wool was given to the Peruvian family, 
according to the number of women it contained, and 
these wove it into garments, whatever was over being 
stored away in the public cloth-magazines for the 
general use. The large flocks of llamas and alpacas 
also afforded a supply of meat for the people such as 
the Mexicans never possessed. Naturally much atten- 
tion was given to the breeding of these animals, and the 
alpaca was as carefully regarded by the Peruvian as the 
sheep by the farmer of to-day. The guanacos and 
vicunas, wild animals of the llama or auchenia family, 
were also sources of food- and wool-supply. 

Architecture of the Incas 

The art in which the Incan Peruvians displayed the 

greatest advance was that of architecture. The earlier 

style of Inca building shows that it was closely 

modelled, as has already been pointed out, on that of 

the megalithic masons of the Tiahuanaco district, but 

the later style shows stones laid in regular courses, 

varying in length. No cement or mortar of any kind 

was employed, the structure depending for stability 

upon the accuracy with which the stones were fitted to 

each other. An enormous amount of labour must 

have been expended upon this part of the work, for in 

the monuments of Peruvian architecture which still 

exist it is impossible to insert even a needle between 

the stones of which they are composed. The palaces 


and temples were built around a courtyard, and most 
of the principal buildings had a hall of considerable 
dimensions attached to them, which, like the baronial 
halls of the England of the Middle Ages, served for 
feasting or ceremony. In this style is built the front 
of the palace on the Colcampata, overlooking the city 
of Cuzco, under the fortress which is supposed to 
have been the dwelling of Manco Ccapac, the first 
Inca. Palaces at Yucay and Chinchero are also of this 

Unsurpassed Workmanship 

In an illuminating passage upon Inca architecture 
Sir Clements Markham, the greatest living authority 
upon matters Peruvian, says : 

" In Cuzco the stone used is a dark trachyte, and 
the coarse grain secured greater adhesion between the 
blocks. The workmanship is unsurpassed, and the 
world has nothing to show in the way of stone-cutting 
and fitting to equal the skill and accuracy displayed in 
the Ynca structures of Cuzco. No cement is used, 
and the larger stones are in the lowest row, each 
ascending course being narrower, which presents a 
most pleasing effect. The edifices were built round 
a court, upon which the rooms opened, and some of 
the great halls were 200 paces long by 60 wide, the 
height being 35 to 40 feet, besides the spring of the 
roof. The roofs were thatch ; and we are able to 
form an idea of their construction from one which 
is still preserved, after a lapse of three centuries. This 
is on a circular building called the Sondor-huasi, at 
Azangaro, and it shows that even thatch in the hands 
of tasteful builders will make a sightly roof for im- 
posing edifices, and that the interior ornament of such 
a roof may be exceedingly beautiful." 



The Temple of Viracocha 

The temple of Viracocha, at Cacha, in the valley 
of the Vilcamayu, is built on a plan different from that 
of any other sacred building in Peru. Its ruins consist 
of a wall of adobe or clay 40 feet high and 330 long, 
built on stone foundations 8 feet in height. The roof 
was supported on twenty-five columns, and the width 
of the structure was 87 feet. It was a place of 
pilgrimage, and the caravanserais where the Faithful were 
wont to be housed still stand around the ruined fane. 


The most sacred of the Peruvian shrines, however, 
was Titicaca, an island on the lake of that name. The 
island of Coati, hard by, enjoyed an equal reverence. 
Terraced platforms on the former, reached by flights 
of steps, support two buildings provided for the 
use of pilgrims about to proceed to Coati. On Titicaca 
there are the ruins of an extensive palace which com- 
mands a splendid view of the surrounding barren 
country. A great bath or tank is situated half-way 
down a long range of terraces supported by cut stone 
masonry, and the pool, 40 feet long by 10, and 5 feet 
deep, has similar walls on three sides. Below this tank 
the water is made to irrigate terrace after terrace until 
it falls into the lake. 


The island of Coati is about six miles distant. The 
principal building is on one of the loftiest of seven 
terraces, once radiant with flowers and shrubs, and 
filled with rich loam transported from a more fertile 
region. It is placed on three sides of a square, 183 feet 

long bv 80, and is of stone laid in clay and coated 



with plaster. "It has," says Markham, "thirty-five 
chambers, only one of which is faced with hewn stones. 
The ornament on the facade consists of elaborate niches, 
which agreeably break the monotony of the wall, and 
above them runs a projecting cornice. The walls were 
painted yellow, and the niches red ; and there was a 
high-pitched roof, broken here and there by gables. 
The two largest chambers are 20 long by 12, and 
loftier than the rest, each with a great niche in the wall 
facing the entrance. These were probably the holy 
places or shrines of the temple. The beautiful series 
of terraces falls off from the esplanade of the temple to 
the shores of the lake." 

Mysterious Chimu 

The coast folk, of a different race from the Incas, 
bad their centre of civilisation near the city of 
TYuxillo, on the plain of Chimu. Here the ruins of a 
great city litter the plain for many acres. Arising from 
the mass of ruin, at intervals stand huacas, or artificial 
hills. The city was supplied with water by means 
of small canals, which also served to irrigate the 
gardens. The mounds alluded to were used for 
sepulture, and the largest, at Moche, is 800 feet 
long by 470 feet in breadth, and 200 feet in height. 
It is constructed of adobes. Besides serving the pur- 
pose of a cemetery, this mound probably supported a 
Urge temple on its summit. 

The Palace 

A vast palace occupied a commanding position. Its 
great hall was 100 feet long by 52 broad, and its walls 
were covered with a highly ornate series of arabesques 
in relief done in stucco, like the fretwork on the walls 

of Palenque. Another hall close at hand is ornamented 



in coloured stucco, and from it branch off many small 
rooms, which were evidently dormitories. From the 
first hall a long corridor leads to secret storehouses, 
where many vessels of gold and silver have been dis- 
covered hidden away, as if to secure them either from 
marauding bands or the gaze of the vulgar. All of 
these structures are hollowed out of a vast mound 
covering several acres, so that the entire building may 
be said to be partially subterranean in character. 
" About a hundred yards to the westward of this 
palace there was a sepulchral mound where many relics 
were discovered. The bodies were wrapped in cloths, 
woven in ornamental figures and patterns of different 
colours. On some of the cloths were sewn plates of 
silver, and they were edged with borders of feathers, 
the silver being occasionally cut in the shape of fishes. 
Among the ruins of the city there are great rectangular 
areas enclosed by massive walls, and containing courts, 
streets, dwellings, and reservoirs for water. The 
largest is about a mile south of the mound-palace, 
and is 550 yards long by 400. The outer wall is about 
30 feet high, 10 feet thick at the base, with sides 
inclining toward each other. Some of the interior walls 
are highly ornamented in stuccoed patterns ; and in one 
part there is an edifice containing forty-five chambers 
or cells, in five rows of nine each, which is supposed to 
have been a prison. The enclosure also contained a 
reservoir 450 feet long by 195 broadband 60 feet deep/' 

The Civilisation of Chimu 

The ruins of Chimu are undoubtedly the outcome 
of a superior standard of civilisation. The buildings 
are elaborate, as are their internal arrangements. The 
extent of the city is great, and the art displayed in the 
manufacture of the utensils discovered within it and 


the taste evinced in the numerous wall-patterns show 
that a people of advanced culture inhabited it. The 
jeweller's work is in high relief, and the pottery and 
plaques found exhibit much artistic excellence. 


The famous ruins of the temple and city of 
Pachacamac, near the valley of Lurin, to the south 
of Lima, overlook the Pacific Ocean from a height of 
500 feet. Four vast terraces still bear mighty per- 
pendicular walls, at one time painted red. Here was 
found the only perfect Peruvian arch, built of large 
adobe bricks — a proof that the Peruvian mind did not 
stand still in matters architectural at least. 

Irrigation Works 

It was in works of irrigation, however, that the 
race exhibited its greatest engineering genius. In the 
valley of Nasca the Incas cut deep trenches to reinforce 
the irrigating power of a small river, and carried the 
system high up into the mountains, in order that the 
rainfall coming therefrom might be conducted into the 
needful channel. Lower down the valley the main 
watercourse is deflected into many branches, which 
irrigate each estate by feeding the small surface streams. 
This system adequately serves the fifteen estates of 
Nasca to-day ! Another high-level canal for the irri- 
gation of pasture-lands was led for more than a 
hundred and fifty miles along the eastern slope of the 
central cordillera. 

A Singular Discovery 

In Peru, as in Mexico, it is probable that the cross 
was employed as a symbol of the four winds. An 
account of the expedition of Fuentes to the valley of 

» m 


Chichas recounts the discovery of a wooden cross as 
follows : * 

" When the settlers who accompanied Fuentes in 
his glorious expedition approached the valley they 
found a wooden cross, hidden, as if purposely, in the 
most intricate part of the mountains. As there is not 
anything more flattering to the vanity of a credulous 
man than to be enabled to bring forward his testimony 
in the relation of a prodigy, the devotion of these good 
conquerors was kindled to such a degree by the dis- 
covery of this sacred memorial that they instantly 
hailed it as miraculous and divine. They accordingly 
carried it in procession to the town, and placed it in 
the church belonging to the convent of San Francisco, 
where it is still worshipped. It appears next to im- 
possible that there should not, at that time, have been 
any individual among them sufficiently enlightened to 
combat such a persuasion, since, in reality, there was 
nothing miraculous in the finding of this cross, there 
having been other Christian settlers, before the arrival 
of Fuentes, in the same valley. The opinion, notwith- 
standing, that the discovery was altogether miraculous, 
instead of having been abandoned at the commence- 
ment, was confirmed still more and more with the 
progress of time. The Jesuits Antonio Ruiz and 
Pedro Lozano, in their respective histories of the 
missions of Paraguay, &c, undertook to demonstrate 
that the Apostle St. Thomas had been in America. 
This thesis, which was so novel, and so well calculated 
to draw the public attention, required, more than any 
other, the aid of the most powerful reasons, and of the 
most irrefragable documents, to be able to maintain 
itself, even in an hypothetical sense ; but nothing of 
all this was brought forward. Certain miserable con- 

1 Skinner's State of Peru, p. 313 (1805). 



jccturcs, prepossession, and personal interest, supplied 
the place of truth and criticism. The form of a human 
foot, which they fancied they saw imprinted on the 
rock, and the different fables of this description in- 
vented by ignorance at every step, were the sole 
foundations on which all the relations on this subject 
were made to repose. The one touching the pere- 
grinations of St. Thomas from Brazil to Quito must 
be deemed apocryphal, when it is considered that the 
above reverend fathers describe the Apostle with the 
staff in the hand, the black cassock girt about the waist, 
and all the other trappings which distinguish the mis- 
sionaries of the society. The credit which these 
histories obtained at the commencement was equal 
to that bestowed on the cross of Tarija, which re- 
mained in the predicament of being the one St. Thomas 
had planted in person, in the continent of America." 

The Chibchas 

A people called the Chibchas dwelt at a very high 
point of the Andes range. They were brave and in- 
dustrious, and possessed a culture of their own. They 
defended themselves against much stronger native 
races, but after the Spanish conquest their country was 
included in New Granada, and is now part of the 
United States of Colombia. Less experienced than the 
Peruvians or Aztecs, they could, however, weave and 
dye, carve and engrave, make roads, build temples, 
and work in stone, wood, and metals. They also 
worked in pottery and jewellery, making silver pen- 
dants and collars of shells and collars of precious 
stones. They were a wealthy folk, and their Spanish 
conquerors obtained much spoil. Little is known 
concerning them or their language, and there is not 
much of interest in the traditions relating to them. 



Their mythology was simple. They believed the 
moon was the wife of Bochica, who represented the 
sun, and as she tried to destroy men Bochica only 
allowed her to give light during the night. When 
the aborigines were in a condition of barbarism Bochica 
taught them and civilised them. The legends about 
Bochica resemble in many points those about Quetzal- 
coatl or Manco Ccapac, as well as those relating to the 
founder of Buddhism and the first Inca of Peru. The 
Chibchas offered human sacrifices to their gods at 
certain intervals, and kept the wretched victim for 
some years in preparation for his doom. They vene- 
rated greatly the Lake of Quatavita, and are supposed 
to have flung their treasures into it when they were 
conquered. Although many attempts have been made 
to recover these, little of value has been found. 

The Chibchas appear to have given allegiance to two 
leaders, one the Zippa, who lived at Bogota, the other 
the Zoque, who lived at Hunsa, now Tunja. These 
chiefs ruled supreme. Like the Incas, they could 
only have one lawful wife, and their sons did not 
succeed them — their power passed, as in some Central 
African tribes, to the eldest son of the sister. 

When the Zippa died, sweet-smelling resin took the 
place of his internal parts, and the body was put in a 
wooden coffin, with' sheets of gold for ornamentation. 
The coffin was hidden in an unknown sepulchre, and 
these tombs have never been discovered — at least, so 
say the Spaniards. Their weapons, garments, objects 
of daily use, even jars of chicha y were buried with these 
chiefs. It is very likely that a cave where rows of 
mummies richly dressed were found, and many jewels, 
was the secret burying-place of the Zippas and the 
Zoques. To these folk death meant only a continuation 
of the life on earth. 


A Severe Legal Code 

The laws of the Chibchas were severe — death was 
meted out to the murderer, and bodily punishment for 
stealing. A coward was made to look like a woman 
and do her work, while to an unfaithful wife was 
administered a dose of red pepper, which, if swallowed, 
released the culprit from the penalty of death and 
entitled her to an apology from her husband. The 
Chibchas made no use of cattle, and lived on honey. 
Their houses were built of clay, and were set in the 
midst of an enclosure guarded by watch-towers. The 
roofs were of a conical shape, covered with reed mats, 
and skilfully interlaced rushes were used to close the 

The Chibchas were skilful in working bronze, lead, 
copper, tin, gold, and silver, but not iron. The Saint- 
Germain Museum has many specimens of gold and 
silver articles made by these people. M. Uricaechea 
has still more uncommon specimens in his collection, 
such as two golden masks of the human face larger 
than life, and a great number of statuettes of men, and 
images of monkeys and frogs. 

The Chibchas traded with what they made, exporting 
the rock salt they found in their own country and 
receiving in exchange cereals with which to cultivate 
their own poor soil. They also made curious little 
ornaments which might haye passed for money, but 
they are not supposed to have understood coinage. 
They had few stone columns — only large granite rocks 
covered with huge figures of tigers and crocodiles. 
Humboldt mentions these, and two very high columns, 
covered with sculpture, at the junction of the Carare 
and Magdalena, greatly revered by the natives, were 
raised probably by the Chibchas. 



A Strange Mnemonic System 

On the arrival of the Spaniards the Peruvians were 
unacquainted with any system of writing or numera- 
tion. The only means of recording events they pos- 
sessed was that provided by quipos, knotted pieces 
of string or hide of varying length and colour. 
According to the length or colour of these cords the 
significance of the record varied ; it was sometimes 
historical and sometimes mathematical. Quipos relat- 
ing to the history of the Incas were carefully pre- 
served by an officer called Quipo Camayol — literally, 
"The Guardian of the Quipos." The greater number 
were destroyed as monuments of idolatry by the 
fanatical Spanish monks who came over with the 
Conquistadores, but their loss is by no means im- 
portant, as no study, however profound, could possibly 
unriddle the system upon which they were based. The 
Peruvians, however, long continued to use them in 

Practical Use of the Quipos 

The Marquis de Nadaillar has placed on record a 
use to which the quipos were put in more modern 
times. He says : "A great revolt against the Spaniards 
was organised in 1792. As was found out later, the 
revolt had been organised by means of messengers 
carrying a piece of wood in which were enclosed 
threads the ends of which were formed of red, black, 
blue, or white fringes. The black thread had four 
knots, which signified that the messenger had started 
from Vladura, the residence of the chief of the con- 
spiracy, four days after full moon. The white thread 
had ten knots, which signified that the revolt would 

break out ten days after the arrival of the messenger. 


The person to whom the keeper was sent had in his 
turn to make a knot in the red thread if he agreed to 
join the confederates ; in the red and blue threads, on 
the contrary, if he refused. " It was by means of these 
quipos that the Incas trans mi ttelPIKeir instructions. On 
all the roads starting from the capital, at distances rarely 
exceeding five miles, rose tambos y or stations for the 
chasquis or couriers, who went from one post to another. 
The orders of the Inca thus became disseminated with 
great rapidity. Orders which emanated directly from 
the sovereign were marked with a red thread of the 
royal llantu (mantle), and nothing, as historians assure 
us, could equal the respect with which these messages 
were received. 

The Incas as Craftsmen 

The Incan Peruvians had made some progress in 

the metallurgic, ceramic, and textile arts. By washing 

the sands of the rivers of Caravaya they obtained large 

quantities of gold, and they extracted silver from the 

ore by means of blast-furnaces. Copper also was 

abundant, and was employed to manufacture bronze, 

of which most of their implements were made. 

Although it is difficult to know at what period their 

mining operations were carried on, it is evident that 

they couid only have learned the art through long 

experience. Many proofs are to be found of their 

skill in jewellery, and amongst these are wonderful 

statuettes which they made from an amalgam of gold 

and mercury, afterwards exposed to great heat. A 

number of curious little ornaments made of various 

substances, with a little hole bored through them, were 

frequently found under the huacas — probably talismans. 

The finest handiwork of the Incas was undoubtedly 

in jewellery ; but unfortunately most of the examples 



of their work in this craft were melted down to assuage 
the insatiable avarice of the Spanish conquerors, and 
are therefore for ever lost to us. The spade and chisel 
employed in olden times by the Peruvians are much 
the same as the people use now, but some of their tools 
were clumsy. Their javelins, tomahawks, and other 
military arms were very futile weapons. Some found 
near the mines of Pasco were made of stone. 

The spinning, weaving, and dyeing of the Peruvians 
were unequalled in aboriginal America, their cloths 
and tapestries being both graceful in design and strong 
in texture. 

Stamps of bark or earthenware were employed to fix 
designs upon their woollen stuffs, and feathers were 
added to the garments made from these, the combina- 
tion producing a gay effect much admired by the 
Spaniards. The British Museum possesses some good 
specimens of these manufactures. 


The Peruvians excelled in the potter's art. The 
pottery was baked in a kiln, and was varied in colour, 
red, black, and grey being the favourite shades. It 
was varnished outside, and the vases were moulded in 
two pieces and joined before heating. Much of the 
work is of great grace and elegance, and the shapes of 
animals were very skilfully imitated. Many drinking- 
cups of elegant design have been discovered, and some 
vases are of considerable size, measuring over three feet 
in height. A simple geometric pattern is usually em- 
ployed for decoration, but sometimes rows of birds and 
insects figure in the ceramics. The pottery of the coast 
people is more rich and varied than that of the Inca race 
proper, and among its types we find vases moulded in 

the form of human faces, many of them exhibiting so 

i. Vase of painted terra-cotta in form of a seated figure, 
with busts on each side 

2. Three black terra-cotta vases 

Photo Mansell & Co. 




much character that we are forced to conclude that they 
are veritable portraits. Fine stone dishes are often found, 
as well as platters of wood, and these frequently bear as 
ornament tasteful carvings representing serpents. On 
several cups and vases are painted representations of 
battles between the Inca forces and the savages of the 
eastern forests using bows and arrows ; below wander the 
animals of the forest region, a brightly painted group. 

The Archaeological Museum of Madrid gives a 
representation of very varied kinds of Peruvian 
pottery, including some specimens modelled upon a 
series of plants, interesting to botanists. The Louvre 
collections have one or two interesting examples ot 
earthenware, as well as the Ethnographical Museum of 
St. Petersburg, and in all these collections there are types 
which are believed to be peculiar to the Old World. 

The Trocadero Museum has a very curious specimen 
with two necks called the "Salvador/* A drawing on 
the vase represents a man with a tomahawk. The 
Peruvians, like the Mexicans, also made musical 
instruments out of earthenware, and heavy ornaments, 
principally for the ear. 

Historical Sketch of the Incan Peruvians 

The Inca dominion, as the Spaniards found it, was 

instituted only about a century before the coming of 

the white man. Before that time Inca sway held good 

over scattered portions of the country, but had not 

extended over the entire territory which in later times 

was connected with the Inca name. That it was 

founded on the wreck of a more ancient power which 

once existed in the district of Chinchay-suyu there can 

be little doubt. This power was wielded over a space 

bounded by the lake of Chinchay-cocha on the north 

and Abancay on the south, and extended to the Pacific 



at the valley of Chincha. It was constituted by an 
alliance of tribes under the leadership of the chief of 
Pucara, in the Huanca country. A branch of this 
confederacy, the Chanca, pushing southward in a 
general movement, encountered the Inca people or 
Colla-suyu, who, under their leader, Pachacutic, a 
young but determined chieftain, defeated the invaders 
in a decisive battle near Cuzco. In consequence of this 
defeat the Chanca deserted their former allies and made 
common cause with their victors. Together the armies 
made a determined attack on the Huanca alliance, 
which they broke up, and conquered the northern 
districts of the Chinchay-suyu. Thus Central Peru 
fell to the Inca arms. 

The Inca Monarchs 

Inca history, or rather tradition, as we must call it 
in the light of an unparalleled lack of original docu- 
mentary evidence, spoke of a series of eleven monarchs 
from Manco Ccapac to Huaina Ccapac, who died 
shortly before the Spanish conquest. These had 
reigned for a collective period of nearly 350 years. 
The evidence that these chiefs had reigned was of the 
best, for their mummified bodies were preserved in the 
great Temple of the Sun at Cuzco, already described. 
There they receivedthe same daily service as when in 
the flesh. Their private herds of llamas and slaves 
were still understood to belong to them, and food and 
drink were placed before them at stated intervals. 
Clothes were made for them, and they were carried 
about in palanquins as if for daily exercise. The 
descendants of each at periodical intervals feasted on 
the produce of their ancestor's private estate, and his 
mummy was set in the centre of the diners and treated 

as the principal guest. 


The First Incas 

After Manco Ccapac and his immediate successor, 
Sinchi Roca (Wise Chief), Lloque Yupanqui comes 
third in the series. He died while his son was still a 
child. Concerning Mayta Ccapac, who commenced his 
reign while yet a minor, but little is known. He was 
followed by Ccapac Yupanqui, who defeated the Conti- 
suyu, who had grown alarmed at the great power 
recently attained by Cuzco. The Inca and his men 
were attacked whilst about to offer sacrifice. A second 
attempt to sack Cuzco and divide its spoil and the 
women attached to the great Temple of the Sun like- 
wise ended in the total discomfiture of the jealous 
invaders. With Inca Roca, the next Inca, a new 
dynasty commences, but it is well-nigh impossible to 
trace the connection between it and the preceding one. 
Of the origin of Inca Roca nothing is related save that 
he claimed descent from Manco Ccapac. Roca, instead 
of waiting to be attacked in his own dominions, boldly 
confronted the Conti-suyu in their own territory, 
defeated them decisively at Pumatampu, and compelled 
them to yield him tribute. His successor, Yahuar- 
huaccac, initiated a similar campaign against the Colla- 
suyu people, against whom he had the assistance of the 
conquered Conti-suyu. But at a feast which he held in 
Cuzco before setting out he was attacked by his allies, 
and fled to the Coricancha, or Golden Temple of the 
Sun, for refuge, along with his wives. Resistance was 
unavailing, and the Inca and many of his favourites 
were slaughtered. The allied tribes which had over- 
run Central Peru now threatened Cuzco, and had they 
advanced with promptitude the Inca dynasty would 
have been wiped out and the city reduced to ruins. 
A strong man was at hand, however, who was capable of 



dealing with the extremely dangerous situation which 
had arisen. This was Viracocha, a chieftain chosen 
by the vote of the assembled warriors of Cuzco. By 
a prudent conciliation of the Conti-suyu and Colla- 
suyu he established a confederation which not only 
put an end to all threats of invasion, but so menaced 
the invaders that they were glad to return to their own 
territory and place it in a suitable state of defence. 

Viracocha the Great 

With Viracocha the Great, or " Godlike," the 
period of true Inca ascendancy commences. He was 
the real founder of the enlarged Inca dominion. He 
was elected Inca on his personal merits, and during 
a vigorous reign succeeded in making the influence of 
Cuzco felt in the contiguous southern regions. In his 
old age he retired to his country seats at Yucay and 
Xaquixahuana, and left the conduct of the realm to his 
son and successor, Urco-Inca, a weak-minded volup- 
tuary, who neglected his royal duties, and was super- 
seded by his younger brother, Pachacutic, a famous 
character in Inca history. 

The Plain of Blood 

The commencement of Pachacutic's reign witnessed 
one of the most sanguinary battles in the history of 
Peru. Hastu-huaraca, chief of the Antahuayllas, in 
the Chanca country, invaded the Inca territory, and 
encamped on the hills of Carmenca, which overlooks 
Cuzco. Pachacutic held a parley with him, but all to 
no purpose, for the powerful invader was deter- 
mined to humble the Inca dynasty to the dust. Battle 
was speedily joined. The first day's fight was 
indecisive, but on the succeeding day Pachacutic 
won a great victory, the larger part of the invading 


force being left dead on the field of battle, and Hastu- 
huaraca retreating with five hundred followers only. 
The battle of Yahuar-pampa (Plain of Blood) was the 
turning-point in Peruvian history. The young Inca, 
formerly known as Yupanqui, was now called Pacha- 
cutic (He who changes the World). The warriors of the 
south made full submission to him, and came in crowds 
to offer him their services and seek his alliance and 
friendship, and he shortly found himself supreme in the 
territories over which his predecessors had exercised 
merely a nominal control. 

The Conquest of Middle Peru 

Hastu-huaraca, who had been commissioned by the 
allied tribesmen of Chinchay-suyu to reduce the Incas, 
now threw in his lot with them, and together conqueror 
and conquered proceeded to the liberation of the district 
of Chinchay-suyu from the tyranny of the Huanca 
alliance. The reduction of the southern portion of that 
territory was speedily accomplished. In the valley of 
Xauxa the invaders came upon the army of the Huanca, 
on which they inflicted a final defeat. The lnca spared 
and liberated the prisoners of war, who were numerous. 
Once more, at Tarma, were the Huanca beaten, after 
which all resistance appears to have been overcome. 
The city-state of Cuzco was now the dominant power 
throughout the whole of Central Peru, a territory 300 
miles in length, whilst it exercised a kind of suzerainty 
over a district of equal extent toward the south-east, 
which it shortly converted into actual dominion. 

Fusion of Races 

This conquest ot Central Peru led to the fusing of 
the Quichua-speaking tribes on the left bank of the 
Apurimac with the Aymara-speaking folk on the right 



bank, with the result that the more numerous Quichua 
speedily gained linguistic ascendancy over their brethren 
the Aymara. Subsequently to this the peoples of 
Southern and Central Peru, led by Inca headmen, 
swept in a great wave of migration over Cerro de 
Pasco, where they met with little or no resistance, and 
Pachacutic lived to be lord over a dominion extending 
for a thousand miles to the northward, and founder of 
a great Inca colony south of the equator almost identical 
in outline with the republic of Ecuador. 

Two Branches of the Incas 

These conquests, or rather race-movements, split up 
the Inca people into two separate portions, the re- 
spective centres of which were well-nigh a thousand 
miles apart. The centre of the northern district was 
at Tumipampa, Riopampa, and Quito at different 
periods. The political separation of these areas was 
only a question of time. Geographical conditions 
almost totally divided the two portions of the empire, 
a sparsely populated stretch of country 400 miles in 
extent lying between them (see map, p. 333.) 

The Laws of Pachacutic 

Pachacutic united to his fame as a warrior the 

reputation of a wise and liberal ruler. He built the 

great Temple of the Sun at Cuzco, probably on the site 

of a still older building, and established in its walls the 

convent in which five hundred maidens were set apart 

for the service of the god. He also, it is said, 

instituted the great rite of the Ccapac-cocha, at which 

maize, cloth, llamas, and children were sacrificed 

in honour of the sun-god. He devised a kind of 

census, by which governors were compelled periodically 

to render an account of the population under their 


rule. This statement was made by means of qtiipos. 
Agriculture was his peculiar care, and he was stringent 
in the enforcement of laws regarding the tilling of the 
soil, the foundation and upkeep of stores and granaries, 
and the regulation of labour in general. As an architect 
he took upon himself the task of personally designing 
the principal buildings of the city of Cuzco, which were 
rebuilt under his instructions and in accordance with 
models moulded from clay by his own hands. He 
appears to have had a passion for order, and to him we 
may be justified in tracing the rigorous and almost 
grandmotherly system under which the Peruvians 
were living at the time of the arrival of their Spanish 
conquerors. To Pachacutic, too, is assigned the raising 
of the immense fortress of Sacsahuaman, already 
described. He further instituted the order of knight- 
hood known as Auqui, or " Warrior/' entrance to 
which was granted to suitable applicants at the great 
feast of Ccapac Raymi, or Festival of the Sun. He 
also named the succession of moons, and erected 
the pillars on the hill of Carmenca by which the season 
of solstice was found. In short, all law and order 
which had a place in the Peruvian social economy were 
attributed to him, and we may designate him the 
Alfred of his race. 


Pachacutic's son, Tupae-Yupanqui, for some time 
before his father's death acted as his lieutenant. His 
name signifies "Bright* or "Shining." His activity 
extended to every portion of the Inca dominion, the 
borders of which he enlarged, suppressing revolts, sub- 
jugating tribes not wholly brought within the pale of 
Inca influence, and generally completing the work so 
ably begun by his father. 



"The Gibbet" 

A spirit of cruelty and excess such as was unknown 
to Pachacutic marked the military exploits of Tupac. 
In the valley of Huarco, near the Pacific coast, for 
example, he was repulsed by the natives, who were 
well supplied with food and stores of all sorts, and 
whose town was well fortified and very strongly 
situated. Tupac constructed an immense camp, or 
rather town, the outlines of which recalled those of 
his capital of Cuzco, on a hill opposite the city, 
and here he calmly sat down to watch the gradual 
starvation of the enemy. This siege continued for 
three years, until the wretched defenders, driven to 
despair through want of food, capitulated, relying on 
the assurance of their conqueror that they should 
become a part of the Inca nation and that their 
daughters should become the wives of Inca youths. 
The submission of their chiefs having been made, 
Tupac ordered a general massacre of the warriors and 
principal civilians. At the conquest the Spaniard? 
could still see the immense heaps of bones which 
littered the spot where this heartless holocaust took 
place, and the name Huarco (The Gibbet) became 
indissolubly associated with the district. 

Huaina Ccapac 

Tupac died in 1493, and was succeeded by his son 
Huaina Ccapac (The Young Chief). Huaina was about 
twenty-two years of age at the time of his father's 
death, and although the late Inca had named Ccapac- 
Huari, his son by another wife, as his successor, the 
claims of Huaina were recognised. His reign was 
peaceful, and was marked by v/ise administrative 
improvements and engineering effort. At the same 



time he was busily employed in holding the savage 
peoples who surrounded his empire in check. He 
favoured the northern colony, and rebuilt Tumipampa, 
but resided at Quito. Here he dwelt for some years 
with a favourite son by a wife of the lower class, 
named Tupac-atau-huallpa (The Sun makes Good 
Fortune). Huaina was the victim of an epidemic 
raging in Peru at the time. He was greatly feared by 
his subjects, and was the last Incawho held undisputed 
sway over the entire dominion. Like Nezahualcoyotl 
in Mexico, he attempted to set up the worship of one 
god in Peru, to the detriment of all other huacas, or 
sacred beings. 

The Inca Civil War 

On the death of Huaina his two sons, Huascar and 
Atauhuallpa, 1 strove for the crown. Before his demise 
Huaina had divided his dominion between his two 
sons, but it was said that he had wrested Quito from a 
certain chieftain whose daughter he had married, and 
by whom he had Atauhuallpa, who was therefore right- 
ful heir to that province. The other son, Huascar, or 
Tupac-cusi-huallpa (The Sun makes Joy), was born to 
his principal sister-wife — for, according to Inca custom, 
the monarchs of Peru, like those of certain Egyptian 
dynasties, tilled with pride of race, and unwilling to 
mingle their blood with that of plebeians, took spouses 
from among their sisters. This is the story as given 
by many Spanish chroniclers, but it has no foundation 
in fact. Atauhuallpa was in reality the son of a woman 
of the people, and Huascar was not the son of Huaina's 
sister-wife, but of a wife of less intimate relationship. 
Therefore both sons were on an equality as regards 

1 This is the name by which he is generally alluded to in Peruvian 

T 289 


descent. Huascar, however, was nearer the throne by 
virtue of his mother's status, which was that of a royal 
princess, whereas the mother of Atauhuallpa was not 
officially recognised. Huascar by his excesses and his 
outrages on religion and public decency aroused the 
people to revolt against his power, and Atauhuallpa, 
discerning his opportunity in this emeute^ made a deter- 
mined attack on the royal forces, and succeeded in 
driving them slowly back, until at last Tumipampa was 
razed to the ground, and shortly afterwards the impor- 
tant southerly fortress of Caxamarca fell into the hands 
of the rebels. 

A Dramatic Situation 

Atauhuallpa remained at Caxamarca, and despatched 
the bulk of his forces into the enemy's country. These 
drove the warriors of Huascar back until the upper 
courses of the Apurimac were reached. Huascar fled 
from Cuzco, but was captured, and carried a prisoner 
with his mother, wife, and children to Atauhuallpa. 
Not many days afterwards news of the landing of the 
Spaniards was received by the rebel Inca. The down- 
fall of the Peruvian Empire was at hand. 

A Worthless Despotism 

If the blessings of a well-regulated government were 
dispensed by the Iricas, these benefits were assuredly 
counterbalanced by the degrading despotism which 
accompanied them. The political organisation of the 
Peruvian Empire was in every sense more complete 
than that of Mexico. But in a state where individual 
effort and liberty are entirely crushed even such an 
effective organisation as the Peruvian can avail the 
people little, and is merely a device for the support of 
a calculated tyranny. 


The Religion of Ancient Peru 

THE religion of the ancient Peruvians had 
obviously developed in a much shorter time 
than that of the Mexicans. The more ancient 
character inherent in it was displayed in the presence of 
deities many of which were little better than mere 
totems, and although a definite monotheism or worship 
of one god appears to have been reached, it was not by 
the efforts of the priestly caste that this was achieved, 
but rather by the will of the Inca Pachacutic, who 
seems to have been a monarch gifted with rare insight 
and ability — a man much after the type of the Mexican 

In Inca times the religion of the people was solely 
directed by the state, and regulated in such a manner 
that independent theological thought was permitted no 
outlet. But it must not be inferred from this that no 
change had ever come over the spirit of Peruvian 
religion. As a matter of fact sweeping changes had 
been effected, but these had been solely the work of the 
Inca race, the leaders of which had amalgamated the 
various faiths of the peoples whom they had conquered 
into one official belief. 


Garcilasso el Inca de la Vega, an early Spanish writer 
on matters Peruvian, states that tradition ran that in 
ante-lnca times every district, family, and village pos- 
sessed its own god, each different from the others. 
These gods were usually such objects as trees, moun- 
tains, flowers, herbs, caves, large stones, pieces of 

jasper, and animals. The jaguar, puma, and bear were 



worshipped for their strength and fierceness, the 
monkey and fox for their cunning, the condor for its 
size and because several tribes believed themselves to 
be descended from it. The screech-owl was worshipped 
for its beauty, and the common owl for its power of 
seeing in the dark. Serpents, particularly the larger 
and more dangerous varieties, were especially regarded 
with reverence. 

Although Payne classes all these gods together as 
totems, it is plain that those of the first class — the 
flowers, herbs, caves, and pieces of jasper — are merely 
fetishes. A fetish is an object in which the savage 
believes to be resident a spirit which, by its magic, will 
assist him in his undertakings. A totem is an object 
or an animal, usually the latter, with which the people 
of a tribe believe themselves to be connected by ties of 
blood and from which they are descended. It later 
becomes the type or symbol of the tribe. 


Lakes, springs, rocks, mountains, precipices, and 
caves were all regarded by the various Peruvian tribes 
as paccariscas — places whence their ancestors had ori- 
ginally issued to the upper world. The paccarisca 
was usually saluted with the cry, " Thou art my birth- 
place, thou art my life-spring. Guard me from evil, O 
Paccarisca I " In the holy spot a spirit was supposed 
to dwell which served the tribe as a kind of oracle. 
Naturally the paccarisca was looked upon with extreme 
reverence. It became, indeed, a sort of life-centre for 
the tribe, from which they were very unwilling to be 

Worship of Stones 

The worship of stones appears to have been almost 

as universal in ancient Peru as it was in ancient Pales- 


tine. Man in his primitive state believes stones to be 
the framework of the earth, its bony structure. He 
considers himself to have emerged from some cave — in 
fact, from the entrails of the earth. Nearly all American 
creation-myths regard man as thus emanating from the 
bowels of the great terrestrial mother. Rocks which 
were thus chosen as paccariscas are found, among many 
other places, at Callca, in the valley of the Yucay, and 
at Titicaca there is a great mass of red sandstone 
on the top of a high ridge with almost inaccessible 
slopes and dark, gloomy recesses where the sun was 
thought to have hidden himself at the time of the 
great deluge which covered all the earth. The rock 
of Titicaca was, in fact, the great paccarisca of the sun 

We are thus not surprised to find that many standing 
stones were worshipped in Peru in aboriginal times. 
Thus Arriaga states that rocks of great size which 
bore some resemblance to the human figure were 
imagined to have been at one time gigantic men or 
spirits who, because they disobeyed the creative power, 
were turned into stone. According to another account 
they were said to have suffered this punishment for 
refusing to listen to the words of Xfa Q ^ a P a i the son of 
the creator, who, like Quetzalcoatl or MaiTco C capac, 
had taken upon himself the guiseoi a wandering lntttan, 
so that he might have an opportunity of bringing the 
arts of civilisation to the aborigines. At Tiahuanaco a 
certain group of stones was said to represent all that 
remained of the villagers of that place, who, instead of 

?aying fitting attention to the wise counsel which 
"honapa the Civiliser bestowed upon them, continued 
to dance and drink in scorn of the teachings he had 
brought to them. 

Again, some stones were said to have become men, 



as in the old Greek creation-legend of Deucalion and 
Pyrrha. In the legend of Ccapac Inca Pachacutic, when 
Cuzco was attacked in force by the Chancas an Indian 
erected stones to which he attached shields and weapons 
so that they should appear to represent so many war- 
riors in hiding. Pachacutic, in great need of assistance, 
cried to them with such vehemence to come to his help 
that they became men, and rendered him splendid 


Whatever was sacred, of sacred origin, or of the 
nature of a relic the Peruvians designated a huaca, from 
the root huacan> to howl, native worship invariably 
taking the form of a kind of howl, or weird, dirge-like 
wailing. All objects of reverence were known as huacas, 
although those of a higher class were also alluded to as 
viracochas. The Peruvians had, naturally, many forms 
of huaca, the most popular of which were those of 
the fetish class which could be carried about by the 
individual. These were usually stones or pebbles, many 
of which were carved and painted, and some made to 
represent human beings. The llama and the ear of 
maize were perhaps the most usual forms of these sacred 
objects. Some of them had an agricultural significance. 
In order that irrigation might proceed favourably a 
huaca was placed at intervals in proximity to the 
acequias, or irrigation canals, which was supposed to 
prevent them leaking or otherwise failing to supply a 
sufficiency of moisture to the parched maize-fields. 
Huacas of this sort were known as ccompas, and were 
regarded as deities of great importance, as the food- 
supply of the community was thought to be wholly 
dependent upon their assistance. Other huacas of a 
similar kind were called chichics and huancas> and these 


presided over the fortunes of the maize, and ensured 
that a sufficient supply of rain should be forthcoming. 
Great numbers of these agricultural fetishes were 
destroyed by the zealous commissary Hernandez de 

The Mamas 

Spirits which were supposed to be instrumental in 
forcing the growth of the maize or other plants were the 
mamas. We find a similar conception among many 
Brazilian tribes to-day, so that the idea appears to have 
been a widely accepted one in South American coun- 
tries. The Peruvians called such agencies "mothers," 
adding to the generic name that of the plant or herb 
with which they were specially associated. Thus acsu- 
mama was the potato-mother, quinuamama the quinua- 
mother, saramama the maize-mother, and cocamama the 
mother of the coca-shrub. Of these the saramama was 
naturally the most important, governing as it did the 
principal source of the food-supply of the community. 
Sometimes an image of the saramama was carved in 
stone, in the shape of an ear of maize. The saramama 
was also worshipped in the form of a doll, or huantay- 
sara, made out of stalks of maize, renewed at each 
harvest, much as the idols of the great corn-mother 
of Mexico were manufactured at each harvest-season. 
After having been made, the image was watched over 
for three nights, and then sacrifice was done to it. The 
priest or medicine-man of the tribe wouJd then inquire 
of it whether or not it was capable of existing until 
that time in the next year. If its spirit replied in the 
affirmative it was permitted to remain where it was until 
the following harvest. If not it was removed, burnt, 
and another figure took its place, to which similar 

questions were put. 



The Huamantantac 

Connected with agriculture in some degree was the 
Huamantantac (He who causes the Cormorants to 
gather themselves together). This was the agency 
responsible for the gathering of sea-birds, resulting in 
the deposits of guano to be found along the Peruvian 
coast which are so valuable in the cultivation of the 
maize-plant. He was regarded as a most beneficent 
spirit, and was sacrificed to with exceeding fervour. 


The huaris, or "great ones," were the ancestors of 
the aristocrats of a tribe, and were regarded as specially 
favourable toward agricultural effort, possibly because 
the land had at one time belonged to them personally. 
They were sometimes alluded to as the "gods of 
strength," and were sacrificed to by libations of chicha. 
Ancestors in general were deeply revered, and had an 
agricultural significance, in that considerable tracts of 
land were tilled in order that they might be supplied with 
suitable food and drink offerings. As the number of 
ancestors increased more and more land was brought into 
cultivation, and the hapless people had their toil added 
to immeasurably by these constant demands upon them. 



The huillcas were huacas which partook of the nature 

of oracles. Many of these were serpents, trees, and 

rivers, the noises made by which appeared to the 

primitive Peruvians — as, indeed, they do to primitive 

folk all over the world — to be of the quality of 

articulate speech. Both the Huillcamayu and the 

Apurimac rivers at Cuzco were huillca oracles of this 

kind, as their names, " Huillca-river " and " Great 


Speaker," denote. These oracles often set the mandate 
of the Inca himself at defiance, occasionally supporting 
popular opinion against his policy. 

The Oracles of the Andes 

The Peruvian Indians of the Andes range within 
recent generations continued to adhere to the super- 
stitions they had inherited from their fathers. A rare 
and interesting account of these says that they " admit 
an evil being, the inhabitant of the centre of the earth, 
whom they consider as the author of their misfortunes, 
and at the mention of whose name they tremble. The 
most shrewd among them take advantage of this belief 
to obtain respect, and represent themselves as his 
delegates. Under the denomination of mohanes y or 
agoreros y they are consulted even on the most trivial 
occasions. They preside over the intrigues of love, 
the health of the community, and the taking of the 
field. Whatever repeatedly occurs to defeat their 
prognostics, falls on themselves ; and they are wont to 
pay for their deceptions very dearly. They chew a 
species of vegetable called piripiri, and throw it into the 
air, accompanying this act by certain recitals and in- 
cantations, to injure some, to benefit others, to procure 
rain and the inundation of the rivers, or, on the other 
hand, to occasion settled weather, and a plentiful store 
of agricultural productions. Any such result, having 
been casually verified on a single occasion, suffices to 
confirm the Indians in their faith, although they may 
have been cheated a thousand times. Fully persuaded 
that they cannot resist the influence of the piripiri, as 
soon as they know that they have been solicited in love 
by its means, they fix their eyes on the impassioned 
object, and discover a thousand amiable traits, either 

real or fanciful, which indifference had before concealed 



from their view. But the principal power, efficacy, and 
it may be said misfortune of the mohanes consist in 
the cure of the sick. Every malady is ascribed to their 
enchantments, and means are instantly taken to ascer- 
tain by whom the mischief may have been wrought. 
For this purpose, the nearest relative takes a quantity 
of the juice of fiorlpondium^ and suddenly falls intoxi- 
cated by the violence of the plant. He is placed in a 
fit posture to prevent suffocation, and on his coming to 
himself, at the end of three days, the mohane who has 
the greatest resemblance to the sorcerer he saw in his 
visions is to undertake the cure, or if, in the interim, 
the sick man has perished, it is customary to subject 
him to the same fate. When not any sorcerer occurs 
in the visions, the first mohane they encounter has the 
misfortune to represent his image." l 

LakcWorship in Peru 

At Lake Titicaca the Peruvians believed the in- 
habitants of the earth, animals as well as men, to have 
been fashioned by the creator, and the district was 
thus sacrosanct in their eyes. The people of the 
Collao called it Mamacota (Mother-water), because it 
furnished them with supplies of food. Two great 
idols were connected with this worship. One called 
Copacahuana was made of a bluish-green stone shaped 
like a fish with a human head, and was placed in a 
commanding position on the shores of the lake. On 
the arrival of the Spaniards so deeply rooted was the 
worship of this goddess that they could only suppress 
it by raising an image of the Virgin in place of the 
idol. The Christian emblem remains to this day. 
Mamacota was venerated as the giver of fish, with 
which the lake abounded. The other image, Copacati 

1 Skinner, State e/Peru, p. 275. 


(Serpent-stone), represented the element of water as 
embodied in the lake itself in the form of an image 
wreathed in serpents, which in America are nearly 
always symbolical of water. 

The Lost Island 

A strange legend is recounted of this lake-goddess. 
She was chiefly worshipped as the giver of rain, but 
Huaina Ccapac, who had modern ideas and journeyed 
through the country casting down huacas^ had deter- 
mined to raise on an island of Lake Titicaca a temple 
to Yatiri (The Ruler), the Aymara name of the god 
Pachacamac in his form of Pachayachachic. He com- 
menced by raising the new shrine on the island of 
Titicaca itself. But the deity when called upon refused 
to vouchsafe any reply to his worshippers or priests. 
Huaina then commanded that the shrine should be 
transferred to the island of Apinguela. But the same 
thing happened there. He then inaugurated a temple 
on the island of Paapiti, and lavished upon it many 
sacrifices of llamas, children, and precious metals. But 
the offended tutelary goddess of the lake, irritated 
beyond endurance by this invasion of her ancient 
domain, lashed the watery waste into such a frenzy of 
storm that the island and the shrine which covered it 
disappeared beneath the waves and were never thereafter 
beheld by mortal eye. 

The Thunder'God of Peru 

The rain-and-thunder god of Peru was worshipped 

in various parts of the country under various names. 

Among the Collao he was known as Con, and in that 

part of the Inca dominions now known as Bolivia he 

was called Churoquella. Near the Cordilleras of the 

coast he was probably known as Pariacaca, who expelled 



the huaca of the district by dreadful tempests, hurling 
rain and hail at him for three days and nights in such 
quantities as to form the great lake of Pariacaca. 
Burnt llamas were offered to him. But the Incas, 
discontented with this local worship, which by no 
means suited their system of central government, 
determined to create one thunder-deity to whom all 
the tribes in the empire must bow as the only god of 
his class. We are not aware what his name was, but 
we know from mythological evidence that he was a 
mixture of all the other gods of thunder in the 
Peruvian Empire, first because he invariably occupied 
the third place in the triad of greater deities, the 
creator, sun, and thunder, all of whom were more or 
less amalgamations of provincial and metropolitan gods, 
and secondly because a great image of him was erected 
in the Coricancha at Cuzco, in which he was repre- 
sented in human form, wearing a headdress which 
concealed his face, symbolic of the clouds, which ever 
veil the thunder-god's head. He had a special temple 
of his own, moreover, and was assigned a share in the 
sacred lands by the Inca Pachacutic. He was accom- 
panied by a figure of his sister, who carried jars of water. 
An unknown Quichuan poet composed on the myth 
the following graceful little poem, which was translated 
by the late Daniel Garrison Brinton, an enthusiastic 
Americanist and professor of American archaeology in 
the University of Pennsylvania : 

Bounteous Princess, 
Lo, thy brother 
Breaks thy vessel 
Now in fragments. 
From the blow come 
Thunder, lightning, 
Strokes of lightning ; 


And thou, Princess, 
Tak'st the water, 
With it rainest, 
And the hail or 
Snow dispensest, 

It will be observed that the translator here employs 

the name Viracocha as if it were that of the deity. But 

it was merely a general expression in use for a more 

than usually sacred being. Brinton, commenting upon 

the legend, says : " In this pretty waif that has floated 

down to us from the wreck of a literature now for ever 

lost there is more than one point to attract the notice 

of the antiquary. He may find in it a hint to decipher 

those names of divinities so common in Peruvian 

legends, Contici and Illatici. Both mean c the Thunder 

Vase,' and both doubtless refer to the conception here 

displayed of the phenomena of the thunderstorm." 

Alluding to Peruvian thunder-myth elsewhere, he says 

in an illuminating passage : "Throughout the realms 

of the Incas the Peruvians venerated as maker of all 

things and ruler of the firmament the god Ataguju. 

The legend was that from him proceeded the first oi 

mortals, the man Guamansuri, who descended to the 

earth and there wedded the sister of certain Guachi- 

mines, rayless ones or Darklings, who then possessed 

it. They destroyed him, but their sister gave birth to 

twin sons, Apocatequil and Piguerao. The former was 

the more powerful. By touching the corpse of his 

mother he brought her to life, he drove off and slew 

the Guachimines, and, directed by Ataguju, released the 

race of Indians from the soil by turning it up with a 

spade of gold. For this reason they adored him as their 

maker. - He it was, they thought, who produced the 



thunder and the lightning by hurling stones with his 
sling. And the thunderbolts that fall, said they, are his 
children. Few villages were willing to be without one 
or more of these. They were in appearance small, 
round stones, but had the admirable properties of 
securing fertility to the fields, protecting from lightning, 
and, by a transition easy to understand, were also adored 
as gods of fire as well material as of the passions, 
and were capable of kindling the dangerous flames of 
desire in the most frigid bosoms. Therefore they were 
in great esteem as love-charms. Apocatequil's statue 
was erected on the mountains, with that of his mother 
on one hand and his brother on the other. c He was 
Prince of Evil, and the most respected god of the 
Peruvians. From Quito to Cuzco not an Indian but 
would give all he possessed to conciliate him. Five 
priests, two stewards, and a crowd of slaves served his 
image. And his chief temple was surrounded by a very 
considerable village, whose inhabitants had no other 
occupation but to wait on him/ " In memory of these 
brothers twins in Peru were always deemed sacred to 
the lightning. 

There is an instance on record of how the huillca 
could refuse on occasion to recognise even royalty 
itself. Manco, the Inca who had been given the 
kingly power by Pizarro, offered a sacrifice to one of 
these oracular shrines. The oracle refused to recognise 
him, through the medium of its guardian priest, stating 
that Manco was not the rightful Inca. Manco there- 
fore caused the oracle, which was in the shape of a rock, 
to be thrown down, whereupon its guardian spirit 
emerged in the form of a parrot and flew away. It is 
probable that the bird thus liberated had been taught by 
the priests to answer to the questions of those who 
came to consult the shrine. But we learn that on 



Manco commanding that the parrot should be pursued 
it sought another rock, which opened to receive it, 
and the spirit of the huillca was transferred to this new 

The Great God Pachacamac 

Later Peruvian mythology recognised only three gods 
of the first rank, the earth, the thunder, and the creative 
agency. Pachacamac, the great spirit of earth, derived 
his name from a word pacha^ which may be best trans- 
lated as "things." In its sense of visible things it is 
equivalent to " world," applied to things which happen 
in succession it denotes "time," and to things con- 
nected with persons "property," especially clothes. 
The world of visible things is thus Mamapacha (Earth- 
Mother), under which name the ancient Peruvians 
worshipped the earth. Pachacamac, on the other hand, 
is not the earth itself, the soil, but the spirit which 
animates all things that emerge therefrom. From him 
proceed the spirits of the plants and animals which 
come from the earth. Pachamama is the mother- 
spirit of the mountains, rocks, and plains, Pachacamac 
the father-spirit of the grain-bearing plants, animals, 
birds, and man. In some localities Pachacamac and 
Pachamama were worshipped as divine mates. Possibly 
this practice was universal in early times, gradually 
lapsing into desuetude in later days. Pachamama was 
in another phase intended to denote the land imme- 
diately contiguous to a settlement, on which the inhabi- 
tants depended for their food-supply. 

Peruvian Creatiori'Stories 

It is easy to see how such a conception as Pacha- 
camac, the spirit of animated nature, would become one 
with the idea of a universal or even a partial creator. 



That there was a pre-existing conception of a creative 
agency can be proved from the existence of the Peruvian 
name Conticsi-viracocha (He who gives Origin, or 
Beginning). This conception and that of Pachacamac 
must at some comparatively early period have clashed, 
and been amalgamated probably with ease when it 
was seen how nearly akin were the two ideas. Indeed, 
Pachacamac was alternatively known as Pacharurac, the 
"maker" of all things — sure proof of his amalgama- 
tion with the conception of the creative agency. As 
such he had his symbol in the great Coricancha 
at Cuzco, an oval plate of gold, suspended between 
those of the sun and the moon, and placed verti- 
cally, it may be hazarded with some probability, 
to represent in symbol that universal matrix from 
which emanated all things. Elsewhere in Cuzco the 
creator was represented by a stone statue in human 


In later lnca days this idea of a creator assumed that 
of a direct ruler of the universe, known as Pachaya- 
chachic. This change was probably due to the in- 
fluence of the lnca Pachacutic, who is known to have 
made several other doctrinal innovations in Peruvian 
theology. He commanded a great new temple to the 
creator-god to be ( built at the north angle of the city of 
Cuzco, in which he placed a statue of pure gold, of the 
size of a boy of ten years of age. The small size was 
to facilitate its removal, as Peruvian worship was nearly 
always carried out in the open air. In form it represented 
a man with his right arm elevated, the hand partially 
closed and the forefinger and thumb raised, as if 
in the act of uttering the creative word. To this 
god large possessions and revenues were assigned, for 


previously service rendered to him had been voluntary 

Ideas of Creation 

It is from aboriginal sources as preserved by the first 
Spanish colonists that we glean our knowledge of what 
the Incas believed the creative process to consist. By 
means of his word (nisca) the creator, a spirit, powerful 
and opulent, made all things. We are provided with 
the formulae of his very words by the Peruvian prayers 
still extant : " Let earth and heaven be," " Let a man 
be ; let a woman be," " Let there be day," " Let there 
be night," " Let the light shine." The sun is here 
regarded as the creative agency, and the ruling caste as 
Vthe objects of a special act of creation. 

Pacari Tampu 

Pacari Tampu (House of the Dawn) was the place 
of origin, according to the later Inca theology, of four 
brothers and sisters who initiated the four Peruvian 
systems of worship. The eldest climbed a neighbour- 
ing mountain, and cast stones to the four points of the 
compass, thus indicating that he claimed all the land 
within sight. But his youngest brother succeeded in 
enticing him into a cave, which he sealed up with a 
great stone, thus imprisoning him for ever. He next 
persuaded his second brother to ascend a lofty moun- 
tain, from which he cast him, changing him into a stone 
in his descent. On beholding the fate of his brethren 
the third member of the quartette fled. It is obvious 
that we have here a legend concocted by the later Inca 
priesthood to account for the evolution of Peruvian 
religion in its different stages. The first brother would 
appear to represent the oldest religion in Peru, that of 

the paccariscas y the second that of a fetishistic stone- 

u 305 


worship, the third perhaps that of Viracocha, and the 
last sun-worship pure and simple. There was, how- 
ever, an "official" legend, which stated that the sun 
had three sons, Viracocha, Pachacamac, and Manco 
Ccapac. To the last the dominion of mankind was 
given, whilst the others were concerned with the 
workings of the universe. This politic arrangement 
placed all the power, temporal and spiritual, in the 
hands of the reputed descendants of Manco Ccapac — 
the Incas. 

Worship of the Sea 

The ancient Peruvians worshipped the sea as well as 
the earth, the folk inland regarding it as a menacing 
deity, whilst the people of the coast reverenced it as a 
god of benevolence, calling it Mama-cocha, or Mother- 
sea, as it yielded them subsistence in the form of fish, 
on which they chiefly lived. They worshipped the 
whale, fairly common on that coast, because of its 
enormous size, and various districts regarded with 
adoration the species of fish most abundant there. This 
worship can have partaken in no sense of the nature of 
totemism, as the system forbade that the totem animal 
should be eaten. It was imagined that the prototype 
of each variety of fish dwelt in the upper world, 
just as many tribes of North American Indians believe 
that the eponymous ancestors of certain animals dwell 
at the four points of the compass or in the sky above 
them. This great fish-god engendered the others of 
his species, and sent them into the waters of the deep 
that they might exist there until taken for the use of 
man. Birds, too, had their eponymous counterparts 
among the stars, as had animals. Indeed, among many 
of the South American races, ancient and modern, the 

constellations were called after certain beasts and birds. 



The Aymara-Quichua race worshipped Viracocha as 
a great culture hero. They did not offer him sacrifices 
or tribute, as they thought that he, being creator and 
possessor of all things, needed nothing from men, so 
they only gave him worship. After him they idol- 
ised the sun. They believed, indeed, that Viracocha 
had made both sun and moon, after emerging from 
Lake Titicaca, and that then he made the earth and 
peopled it. On his travels westward from the lake he 
was sometimes assailed by men, but he revenged him- 
self by sending terrible storms upon them and destroy- 
ing their property, so they humbled themselves and 
acknowledged him as their lord. He forgave them 
and taught them everything, obtaining from them the 
name of Pachayachachic. In the end he disappeared 
in the western ocean. He either created or there were 
born with him four beings who, according to mythical 
beliefs, civilised Peru. To them he assigned the four 
quarters of the earth, and they are thus known as the 
four winds, north, south, east, and west. One legend 
avers they came from the cave Pacari, the Lodging of 
the Dawn. 

Sun'Worship in Peru 

The name "Inca" means "People of the Sun," 
which luminary the Incas regarded as their creator. 
But thev did not worship him totemicaily — that i s^ 
t hey dm nojLcI aim him as a prog e nitor, although the y 
rega rdeclhim as possessing the attributes of a man. 
And Here we may observe a difference between Mexican 
and Peruvian sun-worship. For whereas the Nahua 
primarily regarded the orb as the abode of the Man of 

the Sun, who came to earth in the shape of Quetzal- 



coatl, the Peruvians looked upon the sun itself as the 
deity. The Inca race did not identify their ancestors as 
children of the sun until a comparatively late date. 
Sun-worship was introduced by the Inca Pachacutic, 
who averred that the sun appeared to him in a dream 
and addressed him as his child. Until that time the 
worship of the sun had always been strictly subordi- 
nated to that of the creator, and the deity appeared 
only as second in the trinity of creator, sun, and 
thunder. But permanent provision was made for 
sacrifices to the sun before the other deities were so 
recognised, and as the conquests of the Incas grew 
wider and that provision extended to the new territories 
they came to be known as "the Lands of the Sun/' 
the natives observing the dedication of a part of the 
country to the luminary, and concluding therefrom 
that it applied to the whole. The material reality of 
the sun would enormously assist his cult among a 
people who were too barbarous to appreciate an unseen 
god, and this colonial conception reacting upon the 
mother-land would undoubtedly inspire the military 
class with a resolve to strengthen a worship so popular 
in the conquered provinces, and of which they were in 
great measure the protagonists and missionaries. 

The Sun's Possessions 

In every Peruvian village the sun had considerable 
possessions. His estates resembled those of a terri- 
torial chieftain, and consisted of a dwelling-house, a 
chacra y or portion of land, flocks of llamas and pacos, 
and a number of women dedicated to his service. The 
cultivation of the soil within the solar enclosure de- 
volved upon the inhabitants of the neighbouring 
village, the produce of their toil being stored in the 
inti-huasi, or sun's house. The Women of the Sun 


prepared the daily food and drink of the luminary, 
which consisted of maize and chicha. They also 
spun wool and wove it into fine stuff, which was burned 
in order that it might ascend to the celestial regions, 
where the deity could make use of it. Each village 
reserved a portion of its solar produce for the great 
festival at Cuzco, and it was carried thither on the 
backs of llamas which were destined for sacrifice. 

Inca Occupation of Titicaca 

The Rock of Titicaca, the renowned place of the 
sun's origin, naturally became an important centre of 
his worship. The date at which the worship of the 
sun originated at this famous rock is extremely remote, 
but we may safely assume that it was long before the 
conquest of the Collao by the Apu-Ccapac-Inca Pacha- 
cutic, and that reverence for the luminary as a war-god by 
the Colla chiefs was noticed by Tupac, who in suppress- 
ing the revolt concluded that the local observance at 
the rock had some relationship to the disturbance. It 
is, however, certain that Tupac proceeded after the re- 
conquest to establish at this natural centre of sun- 
worship solar rites on a new basis, with the evident 
intention of securing on behalf of the Incas of Cuzco 
such exclusive benefit as might accrue from the complete 
possession of the sun's paccarisca. According to a native 
account, a venerable colla (or hermit), consecrated to 
the service of the sun, had proceeded on foot from 
Titicaca to Cuzco for the purpose of commending this 
ancient seat of sun-worship to the notice of Tupac. 
The consequence was that Apu-Ccapac-Inca, after 
visiting the island and inquiring into the ancient local 
customs, re-established them in a more regular form. 
His accounts can hardly be accepted in face of the facts 
which have been gathered. Rather did it naturally 



follow that Titicaca became subservient to Tupac after 
the revolt of the Collao had been quelled. Henceforth 
the worship of the sun at the place of his origin was 
entrusted to Incas resident in the place, and was cele- 
brated with lnca rites. The island was converted into 
a solar estate and the aboriginal inhabitants removed. 
The land was cultivated and the slopes of the hills 
levelled, maize was sown and the soil consecrated, the 
grain being regarded as the gift of the sun. This work 
produced considerable change in the island. Where 
once was waste and idleness there was now fertility 
and industry. The harvests were skilfully apportioned, 
so much being reserved for sacrificial purposes, the 
remainder being sent to Cuzco, partly to be sown in 
the ckacras y or estates of the sun, throughout Peru, 
partly to be preserved in the granary of the lnca and 
the huacas as a symbol that there would be abundant 
crops in the future and that the grain already stored 
would be preserved. A building of the Women 
of the Sun was erected about a mile from the rock, 
so that the produce might be available for sacrifices. 
For their maintenance, tribute of potatoes, ocas, and 
quinua was levied upon the inhabitants of the villages 
on the shores of the lake, and of maize upon the people 
of the neighbouring valleys. 


Pilgrimages to Titicaca 

Titicaca at the time of the conquest was probably 

more frequented than Pachacamac itself. These two 

places were held to be the cardinal shrines of the two 

great huacas, the creator and the sun respectively. A 

special reason for pilgrimage to Titicaca was to sacrifice 

to the sun, as the source of physical energy and the 

giver of long life ; and he was especially worshipped 

by the aged, who believed he had preserved their lives. 


Then followed the migration of pilgrims to Titicaca, 
for whose shelter houses were built at Capacahuana, 
and large stores of maize were provided for their use. 
The ceremonial connected with the sacred rites of the 
rock was rigorously observed. The pilgrim ere em- 
barking on the raft which conveyed him to the island 
must first confess his sins to a huillac (a speaker to an 
object of worship) ; then further confessions were 
required at each of the three sculptured doors which 
had successively to be passed before reaching the sacred 
rock. The first door (Puma-puncu) was surmounted 
by the figure of a puma ; the others (Quenti-puncu and 
PilJco-puncu) were ornamented with feathers of the 
different species of birds commonly sacrificed to the 
sun. Having passed the last portal, the traveller 
beheld at a distance of two hundred paces the sacred 
rock itself, the summit glittering with gold-leaf. He 
was permitted to proceed no further, for only the 
officials were allowed entry into it. The pilgrim on 
departing received a few grains of the sacred maize grown 
on the island. These he kept with care and placed with 
his own store, believing they would preserve his stock, 
The confidence the Indian placed in the virtue of the 
Titicaca maize may be judged from the prevalent belief 
that the possessor of a single grain would not suffer 
from starvation during the whole of his life. 

Sacrifices to the New Sun 

The Intip-Raymi, or Great Festival of the Sun, was 
celebrated by the Incas at Cuzco at the winter solstice. 
In connection with it the Tarpuntaita-cuma, or sacri- 
ficing lncas, were charged with a remarkable duty, the 
worshippers journeying eastward to meet one of these 
functionaries on his way. On the principal hill-tops 
between Cuzco and Huillcanuta, on the road to the 



rock of Titicaca, burnt offerings of llamas, coca, and 
maize were made at the feast to greet the arrival of 
the young sun from his ancient birthplace. ' Molina 
has enumerated more than twenty of these places or 
sacrifice. The striking picture of the celebration of 
the solar sacrifice on these bleak mountains in the 
depth of the Peruvian winter has, it seems, no parallel in 
the religious rites of the ancient Americans. Quitting 
their thatched houses at early dawn, the worshippers left 
the valley below, carrying the sacrificial knife and brazier, 
and conducting the white llama, heavily laden with 
fuel, maize, and coca leaves, wrapped in fine cloth, to 
the spot where the sacrifice was to be made. When 
sunrise appeared the pile was lighted. The victim 
was slain and thrown upon it. The scene then pre- 
sented a striking contrast to the bleak surrounding 
wilderness. As the flames grew in strength and the 
smoke rose higher and thicker the clear atmosphere 
was gradually illuminated from the east. When the 
sun advanced above the horizon the sacrifice was at its 
height. But for the crackling of the flames and the 
murmur of a babbling stream on its way down the hill 
to join the river below, the silence had hitherto been 
unbroken. As the sun rose the Incas marched slowly 
round the burning mass, plucking the wool from the 
scorched carcase, and chanting monotonously : " O 
Creator, Sun and Thunder, be for ever young ! 
Multiply the people ; let them ever be in peace ! " 

The Citoc Raymi 

The most picturesque if not the most important 
solar festival was that of the Citoc Raymi (Gradually 
Increasing Sun), held in June, when nine days were 
given up to the ceremonial. A rigorous fast was observed 

for three days previous to the event, during which no 


Conducting the White Llama to the Sacrifice 

William Sewell 




fire must be kindled. On the fourth day the Inca, 
accompanied by the people en masse, proceeded to the 
great square of Cuzco to hail the rising sun, which they 
awaited in silence. On its appearance they greeted it 
with a joyous tumult, and, joining in procession, 
marched to the Golden Temple of the Sun, where 
llamas were sacrificed, and a new fire was kindled by 
means of an arched mirror, followed by sacrificial offer- 
ings of grain, flowers, animals, and aromatic gums. 
This festival may be taken as typical of all the seasonal 
celebrations. The Inca calendar was purely agricultural 
in its basis, and marked in its great festivals the renewal 
or abandonment of the labours of the field. Its astro- 
nomical observations were not more advanced than 
those of the calendars of many American races other- 
wise inferior in civilisation. 

Human Sacrifice in Peru 

Writers ignorant of their subject have often dwelt 

upon the absence of human sacrifice in ancient Peru, 

and have not hesitated to draw comparisons between 

Mexico and the empire of the Incas in this respect, 

usually not complimentary to the former. Such 

statements are contradicted by the clearest evidence. 

Human sacrifice was certainly not nearly so prevalent 

in Peru, but that it was regular and by no means rare 

is well authenticated. Female victims to the sun were 

taken from the great class of Acllacuna (Selected Ones), 

a general tribute of female children regularly levied 

throughout the Inca Empire. Beautiful girls were 

taken from their parents at the age of eight by the 

Inca officials, and were handed over to certain female 

trainers called mamacuna (mothers). These matrons 

systematically trained their protegees in housewifery 

and ritual, Residences or convents called aclla-huasi 



(houses of the Selected) were provided for them in the 
principal cities. 

Methods of Medicine-Men 

A quaint account of the methods of the medicine- 
men of the Indians of the Peruvian Andes probably 
illustrates the manner in which the superstitions of a 
barbarian people evolve into a more stately ritual. 

" It cannot be denied," it states, " that the mohanes 
'priests] have, by practice and tradition, acquired a 
cnowledge of many plants and poisons, with which 
they effect surprising cures on the one hand, and do 
much mischief on the other, but the mania of ascribing 
the whole to a preternatural virtue occasions them to 
blend with their practice a thousand charms and super- 
stitions. The most customary method of cure is to 
place two hammocks close to each other, either in the 
dwelling, or in the open air : in one of them the 
patient lies extended, and in the other the mohane y or 
agorero. The latter, in contact with the sick man, 
begins by rocking himself, and then proceeds, by a 
strain in falsetto, to call on the birds, quadrupeds, and 
fishes to give health to the patient. From time to 
time he rises on his seat, and makes a thousand ex- 
travagant gestures ever the sick man, to whom he 
applies his powders r and herbs, or sucks the wounded 
or diseased parts. If the malady augments, the 
agorero ', having been joined by many of the people, 
chants a short hymn, addressed to the soul of the 
patient, with this burden : c Thou must not go, thou must 
not go.' In repeating this he is joined by the people, 
until at length a terrible clamour is raised, and augmented 
in proportion as the sick man becomes still fainter and 
fainter, to the end that it may reach his ears. When 
all the charms are unavailing, and death approaches, 


the mohane leaps from his hammock, and betakes him- 
self to flight, amid the multitude of sticks, stones, and 
clods of earth which are showered on him. Successively 
all those who belong to the nation assemble, and, 
dividing themselves into bands, each of them (if he 
who is in his last agonies is a warrior) approaches him, 
saying : ' Whither goest thou ? Why dost thou leave 
us ? With whom shall we proceed to the aucas [the 
enemies] ? ' They then relate to him the heroical deeds 
he has performed, the number of those he has slain, 
and the pleasures he leaves behind him. This is 
practised in different tones : while some raise the 
voice, it is lowered by others ; and the poor sick man 
is obliged to support these importunities without a 
murmur, until the first symptoms of approaching dis- 
solution manifest themselves. Then it is that he is 
surrounded by a multitude of females, some of whom 
forcibly close the mouth and eyes, others envelop him 
in the hammock, oppressing him with the whole of 
their weight, and causing him to expire before his time, 
and others, lastly, run to extinguish the candle, and 
dissipate the smoke, that the soul, not being able to 
perceive the hole through which it may escape, may 
remain entangled in the structure of the roof. That this 
may be speedily effected, and to prevent its return to 
the interior of the dwelling, they surround the entrances 
with filth, by the stench of which it may be expelled. 

Death by Suffocation 

" As soon as the dying man is suffocated by the 
closing of the mouth, nostrils, &c, and wrapt up in 
the covering of his bed, the most circumspect Indian, 
whether male or female, takes him in the arms in the 
best manner possible, and gives a gentle shriek, which 
echoes to the bitter lamentations of the immediate 



relatives, and to the cries of a thousand old women 
collected for the occasion. As long as this dismal howl 
subsists, the latter are subjected to a constant fatigue, 
raising the palm of the hand to wipe away the tears, 
and lowering it to dry it on the ground. The result 
of this alternate action is, that a circle of earth, which 
gives them a most hideous appearance, is collected about 
the eyelids and brows, and they do not wash themselves 
until the mourning is over. These first clamours con- 
clude by several good pots of masato y to assuage the 
thirst of sorrow, and the company next proceed to 
make a great clatter among the utensils of the deceased : 
some break the kettles, and others the earthen pots, 
while others, again, burn the apparel, to the end that 
his memory may be the sooner forgotten. If the 
defunct has been a cacique, or powerful warrior, his 
exequies are performed after the manner of the 
Romans : they last for many days, all the people 
weeping in concert for a considerable space of time, at 
daybreak, at noon, in the evening, and at midnight. 
When the appointed hour arrives, the mournful music 
begins in front of the house of the wife and relatives, 
the heroical deeds of the deceased being chanted to the 
sound of instruments. All the inhabitants of the 
vicinity unite in chorus from within their houses, some 
chirping like birds, others howling like tigers, and the 
greater part of them chattering like monkeys, or 
croaking like frogs. They constantly leave off by 
having recourse to the masato, and by the destruction 
of whatever the deceased may have left behind him, the 
burning of his dwelling being that which concludes the 
ceremonies. Among some of the Indians, the nearest 
relatives cut off their hair as a token of their grief, 
agreeably to the practice of the Moabites, and other 
nations. . . . 


The Obsequies of a Chief 

" On the day of decease, they put the body, with its 
insignia, into a large earthen vessel, or painted jar, 
which they bury in one of the angles of the quarter, 
laying over it a covering of potter's clay, and throwing 
in earth until the grave is on a level with the surface 
of the ground. When the obsequies are over, they 
forbear to pay a visit to it, and lose every recollection 
of the name of the warrior. The Roamaynas disenterre 
their dead, as soon as they think that the fleshy parts 
have been consumed, and having washed the bones 
form the skeleton, which they place in a coffin of potter's 
clay, adorned with various symbols of death, like the 
hieroglyphics on the wrappers of the Egyptian mum- 
mies. In this state the skeleton is carried home, to 
the end that the survivors may bear the deceased in 
respectful memory, and not in imitation of those extra- 
ordinary voluptuaries of antiquity, who introduced into 
their most splendid festivals a spectacle of this nature, 
which, by reminding them of their dissolution, might 
stimulate them to taste, before it should overtake them, 
all the impure pleasures the human passions could afford 
them. A space of time of about a year being elapsed, 
the bones are once more inhumed, and the individual 
to whom they belonged forgotten for ever." * 

Peruvian Myths 

Peru is not so rich in myths as Mexico, but the 
following legends well illustrate the mythological ideas 
of the Inca race : 

The Vision of Yupanqui 

The Inca Yupanqui before he succeeded to the 
sovereignty is said to have gone to visit his father, 

1 Skinner, State of Peru, pp. 271 et seq. 



Viracocha Inca. On his way he arrived at a fountain 
called Susur-pugaio. There he saw a piece of crystal 
fall into the fountain, and in this crystal he saw the 
figure of an Indian, with three bright rays as of the 
sun coming from the back of his head. He wore a 
hau>u y or royal fringe, across the forehead like the Inca. 
Serpents wound round his arms and over his shoulders. 
He had ear-pieces in his ears like the Incas, and was 
also dressed like them. There was the head of a lion 
between his legs, and another lion was about his 
shoulders. Inca Yupanqui took fright at this strange 
figure, and was running away when a voice called to 
him by name telling him not to be afraid, because it 
was his father, the sun, whom he beheld, and that he 
would conquer many nations, but he must remember 
his father in his sacrifices and raise revenues for him, 
and pay him great reverence. Then the figure vanished, 
but the crystal remained, and the Inca afterwards saw 
all he wished in it. When he became king he had a 
statue of the sun made, resembling the figure as closely 
as possible, and ordered all the tribes he had conquered 
to build splendid temples and worship the new deity 
instead of the creator. 

The Bird Bride 

The Canaris Indians are named from the province 

of Canaribamba, in Quito, and they have several myths 

regarding their origin. One recounts that at the deluge 

two brothers fled to a very high mountain called 

Huacaquan, and as the waters rose the hill ascended 

simultaneously, so that they escaped drowning. When 

the flood was over they had to find food in the valleys, 

and they built a tiny house and lived on herbs and 

roots. They were surprised one day when they went 

home to find food already prepared for them and chicha 

The birdlike beings were in reality women 
William Sewcll 




to drink. This continued for ten days. Then the 
elder brother decided to hide himself and discover who 
brought the food. Very soon two birds, one Aqua, the 
other Torito (otherwise quacamayo birds), appeared 
dressed as Canaris, and wearing their hair fastened in 
the same way. The larger bird removed the llicella^ 
or mantle the Indians wear, and the man saw that they 
had beautiful faces and discovered that the bird-like 
beings were in reality women. When he came out 
the bird-women were very angry and flew away. When 
the younger brother came home and found no food 
he was annoyed, and determined to hide until the 
bird-women returned. After ten days the quacamayos 
appeared again on their old mission, and while they 
were busy the watcher contrived to close the door, and so 
prevented the younger bird from escaping. She lived 
with the brothers for a long time, and became the mother 
of six sons and daughters, from whom all the Canaris 
proceed. Hence the tribe look upon the quacamayo 
birds with reverence, and use their feathers at their 


Some myths tell of a divine personage called Thonapa, 
who appears to have been a hero-god or civilising agent 
like Quetzalcoatl. He seems to have devoted his life 
to preaching to the people in the various villages, be- 
ginning in the provinces of Colla-suya. When he came 
to Yamquisupa he was t reated so badly th at hf wonH 
not remain the re. He slept injhe ope n-a ir, clad only 
U LaJong shirt and a mantle, and -carrieH a book.- He 
^cursed the'village. It was soon im mersed in wafe^ 
and i s now a lake. There was an idol in the form of 
a woman to which the people offered sacrifice at the 
top of a high hill, Cachapucara. This idol Thonapa 



detested, so he burnt it, and also destroyed the hill. 
On another occasion Thonapa cursed a large assembly 
of people who were holding a great banquet to cele- 
brate a wedding, because they refused to listen to his 
preaching. They were all changed into stones, which 
are visible to this day. Wandering through Peru, 
Thonapa came to the mountain of Caravaya, and after 
raising a very large cross he put it on his shoulders 
and took it to the hill Carapucu, where he preached 
so fervently that he shed tears. A chiefs daughter 
got some of the water on her head, and the Indians, 
imagining that he was washing his head (a ritual 
offence), took him prisoner near the Lake of Carapucu. 
Very early the next morning a beautiful youth appeared 
to Thonapa, and told him not to fear, for he was sent 
from the divine guardian who watched over him. He 
released Thonapa, who escaped, though he was well 
guarded. He went down into the lake, his mantle 
keeping him above the water as a boat would have 
done. After Thonapa had escaped from the bar- 
barians he remained on the rock of Titicaca, afterwards 
going to the town of Tiya-manacu, where again he 
cursed the people and turned them into stones. They 
were too bent upon amusement to listen to his preach- 
ing. He then followed the river Chacamarca till it 
reached the sea, arid, like Quetzalcoatl, disappeared. 
This is good evidence that he was a solar deity, or 
" man of the sun," who, his civilising labours com- 
pleted, betook himself to the house of his father. 

A Myth of Manco Ccapac Inca 

When Manco Ccapac Inca was born a staff which had 
been given to his father turned into gold. He had 
seven brothers and sisters, and at his father's death he 
assembled all his people in order to see how much he 

" A beautiful youth appeared to Thonapa 
William Sewell 

> > 




could venture in making fresh conquests. He and his 
brothers supplied themselves with rich clothing, new 
arms, and the golden staff called tapac-yauri (royal 
sceptre). He had also two cups of gold from which 
Thonapa had drunk, called tapacusu They proceeded 
to the highest point in the country, a mountain where 
the sun rose, and Manco Ccapac saw several rainbows, 
which he interpreted as a sign of good fortune, 
Delighted with the favouring symbols, he sang the song 
of Chamayhuarisca (The Song of Joy). Manco Ccapac 
wondered why a brother who had accompanied him 
did not return, and sent one of his sisters in search 
of him, but she also did not come back, so he went 
himself, and found both nearly dead beside a huaca. 
They said they could not move, as the huaca, a stone, 
retarded them. In a great rage Manco struck this 
stone with his tapac-yauri. It spoke, and said that had 
it not been for his wonderful golden staff he would 
have had no power over it. It added that his brother 
and sister had sinned, and therefore must remain with 
it (the huaca) in the lower regions, but that Manco 
was to be " greatly honoured/ ' The sad fate of his 
brother and sister troubled Manco exceedingly, but 
on going back to the place where he first saw the rain- 
bows he got comfort from them and strength to bear 
his grief. 

Coniraya Viracocha 

Coniraya Viracocha was a tricky nature spirit who 

declared he was the creator, but who frequently 

appeared attired as a poor ragged Indian. He was 

an adept at deceiving people. A beautiful woman, 

Cavillaca, who was greatly admired, was one day 

weaving a mantle at the foot of a lucma tree. Coniraya, 

changing himself into a beautiful bird, climbed the tree T 

x 321 


took some of his generative seed, made it into a ripe 
lucma^ and dropped it near the beautiful virgin, who 
saw and ate the fruit. Some time afterwards a son was 
born to Cavillaca. When the child was older she wished 
that the huacas and gods should meet and declare who 
was the father of the boy. All dressed as finely as 
possible, hoping to be chosen as her husband. Coniraya 
was there, dressed like a beggar, and Cavillaca never 
even looked at him. The maiden addressed the 
assembly, but as no one immediately answered her 
speech she let the child go, saying he would be sure 
to crawl to his father. The infant went straight up to 
Coniraya, sitting in his rags, and laughed up to him. 
Cavillaca, extremely angry at the idea of being associated 
with such a poor, dirty creature, fled to the sea- 
shore. Coniraya then put on magnificent attire and 
followed her to show her how handsome he was, but 
still thinking of him in his ragged condition she would 
not look back. She went into the sea at Pachacamac 
and was changed into a rock. Coniraya, still following 
her, met a condor, and asked if it had seen a woman. 
On the condor replying that it had seen her quite near, 
Coniraya blessed it, and said whoever killed it would be 
killed himself. He then met a fox, who said he would 
never meet Cavillaca, so Coniraya told him he would 
always retain his disagreeable odour, and on account of 
it he would never be able to go abroad except at night, 
and that he would be hated by every one. Next came 
a lion, who told Coniraya he was very near Cavillaca, 
so the lover said he should have the power of punishing 
wrongdoers, and that whoever killed him would wear 
the skin without cutting off the head, and by preserving 
the teeth and eyes would make him appear still alive ; 
his skin would be worn at festivals, and thus he would 

be honoured after death. Then another fox who gave 

" He sang the song of Chamayhuarisca ' 
William Sewell 







bad news was cursed, and a falcon who said Cavillaca 
was near was told he would be highly esteemed, and 
that whoever killed him would also wear his skin at 
festivals. The parrots, giving bad news, were to cry so 
loud that they would be heard far away, and their cries 
would betray them to enemies. Thus Coniraya blessed 
the animals which gave him news he liked, and cursed 
those which gave the opposite. When at last he came 
to the sea he found Cavillaca and the child turned into 
stone, and there he encountered two beautiful young 
daughters of Pachacamac, who guarded a great serpent. 
He made love to the elder sister, but the younger one 
flew away in the form of a wild pigeon. At that time 
there were no fishes in the sea, but a certain goddess 
had reared a few in a small pond, and Coniraya emptied 
these into the ocean and thus peopled it. The angry 
deity tried to outwit Coniraya and kill him, but he 
was too wise and escaped. He returned to Huarochiri, 
and played tricks as before on the villagers. 

Coniraya slightly approximates to the Jurupari of 
the Uapes Indians of Brazil, especially as regards his 
: mpish qualities. 1 

The Llama's Warning 

An old Peruvian myth relates how the world was 
nearly left without an inhabitant. A man took his 
llama to a fine place for feeding, but the beast moaned 
and would not eat, and on its master questioning it, it 
said there was little wonder it was sad, because in five 
days the sea would rise and engulf the earth. The 
man, alarmed, asked if there was no way of escape, 
and the llama advised him to go to the top of a high 
mountain, Villa-coto, taking food for five days. Wher 

1 See Spence, article " Brazil " in Encyclopdia of Religion and Ethics 
vol. ii. 

3 2 3 


they reached the summit of the hill all kinds of birds 
and animals were already there. When the sea rose 
the water came so near that it washed the tail of a fox, 
and that is why foxes* tails are black ! After five days 
the water fell, leaving only this one man alive, and 
from him the Peruvians believed the present human 
race to be descended. 

The Myth of Huathiacuri 

After the deluge the Indians chose the bravest and 
richest man as leader. This period they called Purun- 
pacha (the time without a king). On a high moun- 
tain-top appeared five large eggs, from one of which 
Paricaca, father of Huathiacuri, later emerged. Hua- 
thiacuri, who was so poor that he had not means to 
cook his food properly, learned much wisdom from 
his father, and the following story shows how this 
assisted him. A certain man had built a most curious 
house, the roof being made of yellow and red birds' 
feathers. He was very rich, possessing many llamas, 
and was greatly esteemed on account of his wealth. 
So proud did he become that he aspired to be the 
creator himself; but when he became very ill and 
could not cure himself his divinity seemed doubtful. 
Just at this time Huathiacuri was travelling about, and 
one day he saw two foxes meet and listened to their 
conversation. From this he heard about the rich man 
and learned the cause of his illness, and forthwith he 
determined to go on to find him. On arriving at the 
curious house he met a lovely young girl, one of the 
rich man's daughters. She told him about her father's 
illness, and Huathiacuri, charmed with her, said he 
would cure her father if she would only give him 
her love. He looked so ragged and dirty that she 
refused, but she took him to her father and informed 

The younger one flew away " 
William Sewell 



him that Huathiacuri said he could cure him. Her 
father consented to give him an opportunity to do so. 
Huathiacuri began his cure by telling the sick man 
that his wife had been unfaithful, and that there were 
two serpents hovering above his house to devour it, 
and a toad with two heads under his grinding-stone. 
His wife at first indignantly denied the accusation, but 
on Huathiacuri reminding her of some details, and the 
serpents and toad being discovered, she confessed her 
guilt. The reptiles were killed, the man recovered, 
and the daughter was married to Huathiacuri. 

Huathiacuri's poverty and raggedness displeased the 
girl's brother-in-law, who suggested to the bridegroom 
a contest in dancing and drinking. Huathiacuri went 
to seek his father's advice, and the old man told him 
to accept the challenge and return to him. Paricaca 
then sent him to a mountain, where he was changed 
into a dead llama. Next morning a fox and its vixen 
carrying a jar of chicha came, the fox having a flute of 
many pipes. When they saw the dead llama they 
laid down their things and went toward it to have 
a feast, but Huathiacuri then resumed his human form 
and gave a loud cry that frightened away the foxes, 
whereupon he took possession of the jar and flute. 
By the aid of these, which were magically endowed, 
he beat his brother-in-law in dancing and drinking. 

Then the brother-in-law proposed a contest to prove 
who was the handsomer when dressed in festal attire. 
By the aid of Paricaca Huathiacuri found a red 
lion-skin, which gave him the appearance of having a 
rainbow round his head, and he again won. 

The next trial was to see who could build a house 
the quickest and best. The brother-in-law got all his 
men to help, and had his house nearly finished before 
the other had his foundation laid. But here again 



Paricaca's wisdom proved of service, for Huathiacuri got 
animals and birds of all kinds to help him during the 
night, and by morning the building was finished except 
the roof. His brother-in-law got many llamas to come 
with straw for his roof, but Huathiacuri ordered an animal 
to stand where its loud screams frightened the llamas 
away, and the straw was lost. Once more Huathiacuri 
won the day. At last Paricaca advised Huathiacuri to 
end this conflict, and he asked his brother-in-law to see 
who could dance best in a blue shirt with white cotton 
round the loins. The rich man as usual appeared first, 
but when Huathiacuri came in he made a very loud 
noise and frightened him, and he began to run away. 
As he ran Huathiacuri turned him into a deer. His 
wife, who had followed him, was turned into a 
stone, with her head on the ground and her feet in 
the air, because she had given her husband such bad 

The four remaining eggs on the mountain-top then 
opened, and four falcons issued, which turned into four 
great warriors. These warriors performed many miracles, 
one of which consisted in raising a storm which 
swept away the rich Indian's house in a flood to 
the sea. 


Having assisted in the performance of several 
miracles, Paricaca set out determined to do great deeds. 
He went to find Caruyuchu Huayallo, to whom 
children were sacrificed. He came one day to a village 
where a festival was being celebrated, and as he was in 
very poor clothes no one took any notice of him or 
offered him anything, till a young girl, taking pity on 
him, brought him chicha to drink. In gratitude Paricaca 
told her to seek a place of safety for herself, as the 

11 His wife at first indignantly denied the accusation " 

William Sewell 




village would be destroyed after five days, but she was 
to tell no one of this. Annoyed at the inhospitality of 
the people, Paricaca then went to a hill-top and sent down 
a fearful storm and flood, and the whole village was 
destroyed. Then he came to another village, now San 
Lorenzo. He saw a very beautiful girl, Choque Suso, 
crying bitterly. Asking her why she wept, she said the 
maize crop was dying for want of water. Paricaca at 
once fell in love with this girl, and after first damming up 
the little water there was, and thus leaving none for the 
crop, he told her he would give her plenty of water if 
she would only return his love. She said he must 
get water not only for her own crop but for all the 
other farms before she could consent. He noticed a 
small rill, from which, by opening a dam, he thought he 
might get a sufficient supply of water for the farms. 
He then got the assistance of the birds in the hills, and 
animals such as snakes, lizards, and so on, in removing 
any obstacles in the way, and they widened the channel 
so that the water irrigated all the land. The fox with 
his usual cunning managed to obtain the post of 
engineer, and carried the canal to near the site of the 
church of San Lorenzo. Paricaca, having accomplished 
what he had promised, begged Choque Suso to keep 
her word, which she willingly did, but she proposed 
living at the summit of some rocks called Yanacaca. 
There the lovers stayed very happily, at the head of the 
channel called Cocochallo, the making of which had 
united them ; and as Choque Suso wished to remain 
there always, Paricaca eventually turned her into a 

In all likelihood this myth was intended to account 
for the invention of irrigation among the early 
Peruvians, and from being a local legend probably 

spread over the length and breadth of the country. 




The advance in civilisation attained by the peoples 
of America must be regarded as among the most 
striking phenomena in the history of mankind, espe- 
cially if it be viewed as an example of what can be 
achieved by isolated races occupying a peculiar 
environment. It cannot be too strongly emphasised 
that the cultures and mythologies of old Mexico 
and Peru were evolved without foreign assistance or 
intervention, that, in fact, they were distinctively and' 
solely the fruit of American aboriginal thought evolved 
upon American soil. An absorbing chapter in the 
story of human advancement is provided by these 
peoples, whose architecture, arts, graphic and plastic, 
laws and religions prove them to have been the equals 
of most of the Asiatic nations of antiquity, and the 
superiors of the primitive races of Europe, who entered 
into the heritage of civilisation through the gateway 
of the East. The aborigines of ancient America 
had evolved for themselves a system of writing which 
at the period of their discovery was approaching the 
alphabetic type, a mathematical system unique and 
by no means despicable, and an architectural science 
in some respects superior to any of which the Old 
World could boast. Their legal codes were reason- 
able and founded upon justice ; and if their religions 
were tainted with cruelty, it was a cruelty which they 
regarded as inevitable, and as the doom placed upon 
them by sanguinary and insatiable deities and not by 
any human agency. 

In comparing the myths of the American races 

with the deathless stories of Olympus or the scarcely 

less classic tales of India, frequent resemblances and 

analogies cannot fail to present themselves, and these 

He saw a very beautiful girl crying bitterly " 
William Sewell 




arc of value as illustrating the circumstance that in. 
e very quarter of the globe the mind of man has shaped 
for_Jtsflf a system of faith based upo n si milar prin - 
ci ples.. But in the perusal of the myths and beliefs of 
Mexico and Peru we are also struck with the strange- 
ness and remoteness alike of their subject-matter and 
the type of thought which they present. The result 
of centuries of isolation is evident in a profound contrast 
of " atmosphere." It seems almost as if we stood for 
a space upon the dim shores of another planet, spec- 
tators of the doings of a race of whose modes of 
thought and feeling we were entirely ignorant. 

For generations these stories have been hidden, 
along with the memory of the gods and folk of whom 
they tell, beneath a thick dust of neglect, displaced here 
and there only by the efforts of antiquarians working 
singly and unaided. Nowadays many well-equipped 
students are striving to add to our knowledge of the 
civilisations of Mexico and Peru. To the mythical 
stories of these peoples, alas ! we cannot add. The 
greater part of them perished in the flames of the 
Spanish autos-de-fS. But for those which have survived 
we must be grateful, as affording so many casements 
through which we may catch the glitter and gleam of 
civilisations more remote and bizarre than those of the 
Orient, shapes dim yet gigantic, misty yet many- 
coloured, the ghosts of peoples and beliefs not the least 
splendid and solemn in the roll of dead nations and 
vanished faiths. 



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Map of the Valley of Mexico 

From the author's " Civilization of Ancient Mexico? by 
permission of the Cambridge University Press 










p«aer*«»-xM* . 

Empire of 
the Incas 




Zone of 





The following bibliography is not intended to be 
exhaustive, but merely to indicate to those who desire 
to follow up the matter provided in the preceding 
pages such works as will best repay their attention. 


Acosta, Jose* db : Historia Natural y Moral de las Tndias. Seville, 

Alzate y Ramirez : Description de las Antiguedades de Xochicalco. 1 791. 

Bancroft, H. H. : Na tive Races of the Pacific States of America. 1875. 
A compilation of historical matter relating to aboriginal America, 
given almost without comment. Useful to beginners. 

Boturini Benaduci, L. : Idea de una Nueva Historia General de la 
America Septentrional. Madrid, 1746. Contains a number of 
valuable original manuscripts. 

Bourbourg, Abbe Brasseur de : Histoire des Nations Civilisees du 
Mexique et de VAmirique Centrale. Paris, 1857-59. The Abbe 
possessed much knowledge of the peoples of Central America 
and their ancient history, but had a leaning toward the 
marvellous which renders his works of doubtful value. 

Charnay, Desire* : Ancient Cities oj the New World. London, 1887. 
This translation from the French is readable and interesting, 
and is of assistance to beginners. It is, however, of little avail 
as a serious work of reference, and has been superseded. 

Chevalier, M. : Le Mexique Ancien et Moderne. Paris, 1886.. 

Clavigero, Abbe : Storia Antica del Messico. Cesena, 1780. 
English translation, London, 1787. Described in text. 

Diaz, Bernal : Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de Nueva Espdha, 
1837. An eye-witness's account of the conquest of Mexico. 

Enock, C. Reginald : Mexico, its Ancient and Modern Civilisation, &c. 
London, 1909. 

Gomara, F. L. de : Historia General de las Tndias. Madrid, 1749. 

Herrera Antonio de : Historia General de los Hechos de los Castellanos 
en las Islas y Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano. 4 vols. Madrid, 
1 601 



Humboldt, Alex, von : Vues des Cordillhes. Paris, 1816. English 
translation by Mrs. Williams. 

Ixtlilxochitl, F. de Alva : Historia C hichimeca ; Relaciones. Edited 
by A. Chavero. Mexico, 1891-92. 

Kingsborough, Lord : Antiquities of Mexico, London, 1830. 

Lumholtz, C. : Unknown Mexico. 1903. 

MacNutt, F. C. : Letters of C one's to Charles V. London, 1908. 

Nadaillac, Marquis de : Prehistoric America. Translation. London, 

Noll, A. H. : A Short History of Mexico. Chicago, 1903. 

Nuttall, Zelia : The Fundamental Principles of Old and New World 
Ci vilisations, 1 90 1 . 

4. Payne, E. J. : History of the New World called America. London, 
1892-99. By far the best and most exhaustive work in English 
upon the subject. It is, however, unfinished. 

Penafiel, F. : Monumentos del Arte Mexicam Antlguo. Berlin, 1 890. 

is Prescott, W. H. : History of the Conquest of Mexico. Of romantic 
interest only. Prescott did not study Mexican history for more 
than two years, and his work is now quite superseded from a 
historical point of view. Its narrative charm, however, is 

Sahagun, Bermardino de : Historia General de las Cosms de Nueva 
Espana. Mexico, 1829. 

Seler, E. : Mexico and Guatemala. Berlin, 1896. 

Serra, Justo (Editor) : Mexico, its Social Evolution. &c. 2 roll. 
Mexico, 1904. 

Spence, Lewis : The Civilization of Ancient Mexico. A digest of the 
strictly verifiable matter of Mexican history and antiquities. 
All tradition is eliminated, the author's aim being to present 
the beginner and the serious student with a series of unem- 
bellished facts. 

Starr, F. : The Indians of Southern Mexico, 1899. 

Thomas, Cyrus, and Magee, W. J. : The History of North America. 

^ Torquemada, Juan de : Monarquia Indiana. Madrid, 1723. 

Bulletin 28 of the Bureau of American Ethnology contains trans- 


iations of valuable essays by the German scholars Seler, Schellhas 
Forstemann, &c. 

Many ot the above works deal with Central America as well as 
with Mexico proper. 

Central America 

Cogolludo, D. Lopez : Historia de Tucathan. 1688. Very scarce. 

Diego de Landa : Relation de Corns de Yucatan. Paris, 1836. Trans- 
lation by Brasseur. 

Dupaix, Colonel : Antiquith Mexicaines. Paris, 1834-36. 

Maudslay,A.P. : Biohgia Centrali- Americana. Publication proceeding. 
Contains many excellent sketches of ruins, &c. 

Spence, Lewis : The PopolVuh. London, 1908. 


Enock, C. R. : Peru : its Former and Present Civilisation, &c. London 

Markham, Sir Clements R. : History of Peru. Chicago, 1892. 

Prescott, W. H. : History of the Conquest of Peru, 3 vols. Phila- 
delphia, 1868. 

Squier, E. G. : Peru: Incidents ofTravei and Exploration in the Land 
of the Incas. London, 1877. 

Tschudi, J. J. von : Reisen durch Siidamerika. 5 vols. Leipsic, 1866— 
'68. Travels in Peru. London, 1847. 

Vega, Garcilasso el Inca de la : Royal Commentaries Oj the Incas, 
1609. Hakluyt Society's Publications. 

In seeking the original sources of Peruvian history we must refer 
to the early Spanish historians who visited the country, either at the 
period of the conquest or immediately subsequent to it. From 
those Spaniards who wrote at a time not far distant from that event 
we have gained much valuable knowledge concerning the contem- 
porary condition of Peru, and a description of the principal works 
of these pioneers will materially assist the reader who is bent on 
pursuing the study of Peruvian antiquities. 

Pedro de Cieza de Leon composed a geographical account of 
Peru in 1554, devoting the latter part of his chronicle to the subject 
of the Inca civilisation. This work has been translated into English 

Y 337 


by Sir Clements R. Markham, and published by the Hakluyt 

Juan Jose de Betanzos., who was well acquainted with theQuichua 
language, and who married an Jnca princess, wrote an account of the 
Incas in 1551, which was edited and printed by Senor Jimenes de la 
EsDada in 1880. 

Polo de Ondegardo, a lawyer and politician, wrote his two 
Relatione* in 1 561 and 1571, making valuable reports on the laws and 
system of administration of the Incas. One of these works has been 
translated by Sir Clements R. Markham, and printed by the Hakluyt 

Augustin de Zarate, accountant, who arrived in Peru with Blasco 
Nunez Vela, the first Viceroy, is the author of the Provincia del Peru, 
which was published at Antwerp in 1555- 

Fernando de Santillan, judge of the Linia Audience, contributed 
an interesting Relation in 1550, edited and printed in 1879 by Sefior 
Jimenes de la Espada. 

Juan de Matienzo, a lawyer contemporary with Ondegardo, was 
the author of the valuable work Gobierno de el Peru, not yet 

Christoval de Molina, priest of Cuzco, wrote an interesting story 
vf xnca ceremonial and religion between 1570 and 1584, which has 
been published by the Hakluyt Society. The translator is Sir C. R. 

Miguel Cavello Balboa, of Quito, gives us the only particulars we 
possess of Indian coast history, and the most valuable information on 
the war between Huascar and Atauhuallpa, in his splendid Miscellanea 
Austral, 1576, translated into French in 1840 by Ternaux-Compans. 

A Jesuit priest, Jose de Acosta, compiled a Natural History of the 
Indies, which was published for the first time in 1588. An English 
translation of the work is provided by the Hakluyt Society, 

Fernando Montesinos in his Memorias Antiguas Historiales del Peru 
and Anaies Memorias Nuevas del Peru quotes a Jong line of sovereigns 
who preceded the Incas. These works were translated into French 
in 1840. 

Relation de los Costombras Antiguas de los Natural?* del Peru, written 
by an anonymous Jesuit, records an account of Inca civilisation. 
The work was published in Spain in 1879. Another Jesuit, 
Francisco de Avila, wrote on the superstitions of the Indians of 
Huarochiri and their gods. His work was translated into English 
and published by the Hakluyt Society. 


Pablo Jos£ de Arriaga, a priest who policed the country, destroying 
the false gods, compiled in 1621 Extirpation de la Idolatria del Peru, 
describing the downfall of the ancient Inca religion. 

Antonio de la Calancha compiled an interesting history of the Incas 
in his work on the Order of St. Augustine in Peru (1638-1653). 

In his Historia de Cofacabana y de su Milagrosa Imagen (1620) 
Alonzo Ramos Gavilan disclosed much information concerning the 
colonists during the time of the Inca rule. 

A valuable history of the Incas is provided by Garcilasso el Inca de la 
Vega in his Commentaries Renlcs. The works of previous authors 
are reviewed, and extracts are given from the compilations of the 
Jesuit Bias Valera, whose writings are lost. The English translation 
i» published by the Hakluyt Society. 

Relation de Antiguedades deste Reyno del Peru, by Pachacuti Yamqui 
Salcamayhua, an Indian of the Collao, was translated into English by 
Sir C. R. Markham, and published by the Hakluyt Society. 

The Historia del Re'tno del Quinto, compiled by Juan de Velasco, 
was translated into French by Ternaux-Compans in 1840. 

Antonio de Herrera gives a brief account of the history and 
civilisation of the Inca people in his General History of the Indies. 

In his History of America Robertson was the first to compile a 
thorough account of the Incas. Prescott, however, in 1848 eclipsed 
his work by his own fascinating account. Sir Arthur Helps has also 
given a resume of Inca progress in his Spanish Conquest (1855). 

The Peruvian Sebastian Lorente published in i860 a history of 
ancient Peru, which presents the subject more broadly than the 
narratives of the American and English authors, and as the result of 
many years of further research he contributed a series of essays to 
the Revista Peruana. 

One of the best works dealing with the antiquities of the Inca 
period is Antiguedades Peruanas, by Don Mariano Rivero (English 
translation by Dr. Hawkes, 1853). The compilation on Peru by 
E. G. Squier (1877), and a similar narrative by C. Weiner (Paris, 
1880), both of which stand in accuracy above the others, are also 
worthy of mention. 

The work of Reiss and Stubel, narrating their excavations at 
Ancon, is richly presented in three volumes, with 1 19 plates. 

The works of Sir Clements Markham are the best guide to 
English scholars on the subiect. 






As the Spanish alphabet was that first employed to represent 
Mexican or Nahuatl phonology, so Mexican words and names must be 
pronounced, for the most part, according to the Castilian system. An 
exception is the letter x, which in Spanish is sometimes written as j 
and pronounced as h aspirate ; and in Nahuatl sometimes as in English, 
at other times as sh or s. Thus the word " Mexico " is pronounced by 
the aboriginal Mexican with the hard x, but by the Spaniard as 
" May-hee-co." The name of the native author Ixtlilxochitl is 
pronounced " Ishtlilshotshitl," the ch being articulated as tsh, for 
euphony. Xochicalco is " So-chi-cal-co." The vowel sounds are 
pronounced as in French or Italian. The tl sound is pronounced with 
almost a click of the tongue. 


The Maya alphabet consists of twenty-two letters, of which o 7 
ch, k, pp, th, tz are peculiar to the language, and cannot be properly 
pronounced by Europeans. It is deficient in the letters d,f, g,j, q, r, s. 
The remaining letters are sounded as in Spanish. The letter x occurring 
at the beginning of a word is pronounced ex. For example, Xbalanque 
is pronounced " Exbalanke." The frequent occurrence of elisions in 
spoken Maya renders its pronunciation a matter of great difficulty, 
and the few grammars on the language agree as to the hopelessness of 
conveying any true idea of the exact articulation of the language by 
means of written directions. Norman in his work entitled Rambles in 
Yucatan remarks : " This perhaps accounts for the disappearance of 
all grammars and vocabularies of the Maya tongue from the peninsula 
of Yucatan, the priests finding it much easier to learn the language 
directly from the Indian than to acquire it from books." 


The two languages spoken in Peru in ancient times were the Quichua, 
or Inca, and the Aymara r These still survive. The former was the 
language of the Inca rulers of the country, but both sprang from one 
common linguistic stock. As these languages were first reduced to 
writing by means of a European alphabet, their pronunciation presents 
but little difficulty, the words practically being pronounced as they 
are written, having regard to the "Continental" pronunciation of the 
vowels. In Quichua the same sound is given to the intermediate c 
before a consonant and to the final c, as in " chacra " and " Pachacamac." 
The general accent is most frequently on the penultimate syllable 


Aac, Prince. In the story of 
Queen M6o, 240, 244-245, 246 

Acalan. District in Guatemala ; 
race -movements and, 150 

Acllacuna (Selected Ones). Body 
of maidens from whom victims 
for sacrifice were taken in Peru, 


Aclla-huasi. Houses in which 
the Acllacuna lived, 313 

Acolhuacan. District in Mexico, 

Acolhuans (or Acolhuaque) 
(People of the Broad Shoulder). 
Mexican race, 26 ; said to have 
founded Mexico, 26 ; a pure 
Nahua race, perhaps the Tol- 
tecs, 26 ; their supremacy, 48 

Acolhuaque. See Acolhuans 

Accsta, Jose de. Work on 
Mexican lore, 58 

Acsumama. Guardian spirit of 
the potato plant in Peru, 295 

Acxitl. Toltec king, son of 
Huemac II, 17, 19 

Acxopil. Ruler of the Kiche, 

Agoreros (or Mohanes). Mem- 
bers 01 Peruvian tribes who 
claimed power as oracles, 297- 
298, 314 
Ahuizotl. Mexican king, 30 
Ah-zotzils. A Maya tribe, 172 
Akab-sib (Writing in the Dark). 
A bas-relief at El Castillo, 
Chichen-Itza, 190 
Ake. Maya ruins at, 186-187 
America. Superficial resem- 
blance between peoples, cus- 
toms, and art-forms of Asia and, 
I ; civilisation, native origin 
of, 1-2, 3, 328 ; animal and 
plant life peculiar to, 2 ; man, 
origin of, in, 2 ; geographical 
connection between Asia and, 
3 ; traditions of intercourse 
between Asia and, 3 ; Chinese 
Fu-Sang and, 3 ; possible 
Chinese and Japanese visits to, 

3-4 ; Coronado's expedition to, 
4 ; legends of intercourse be 
tween Europe and, 4 ; " Great 
Ireland " probably the same as, 
4 ; St. Brandan's voyage and, 

4 ; reached by early Norsemen, 

5 ; the legend of Madoc and, 
5-6 ; early belief in, respecting 
incursions from the east, 6 ; 
prophecy of Chilan Balam re 
coming of white men to, 8 

America, Central. Indigenous 
origin of civilisation of, 1 ; 
legend of Toltec migration to, 20 

Anahuac (By the Water). Native 
name of the Mexican plateau, 
18. See Mexico 

Ancestor-worship in Peru, 296 

Andeans. The prehistoric civili- 
sation of, 249-250 ; architec- 
tural remains of, 250 

Antahuayllas. Peruvian tribe, 

Antilia. Legends of, have no con- 
nection with / ">erican myth, 6 

Anti-suvu. One of the four racial 
divisions of ancient Peru, 255 

Apinguela. Island on Lake 

Titicaca ; Huaina Ccapac and 
the lake-goddess and, 299 

Apocatequil. Peruvian thunder- 
god, the " Prince of Evil " ; in 
a creation-myth, 301-302 

Apu-Ccapac (Sovereign Chief). 
Title of the Inca rulers, 248 

" Apu - Ollanta." A drama- 
legend of the Incas, 251-253 

Apurimac (Great Speak -r). River 
in Peru ; regarded as an oracle, 

Aqua. A bird -maiden; in the myth 
of origin of the Canaris, 319 

Arara (Fire-bird). Same as 
Kinich-ahau, which see 

Architecture. I. Of the Nahua, 
31-34. II. Of the Maya, 149- 
150, 178-198 ; the most in- 
dividual expression cf the 
people, 178 ; Yucatan exhibits 
the most perfect specimens, 
and the decadent phase, 178 ; 




methods of building, 178-179 ; 
ignorance of some first prin- 
ciples, 179; mural decoration, 
179 ; pyramidal buildings, 180 ; 
definiteness of design, 180 ; 
architectural districts, 181 ; not 
of great antiquity, 182 ; Father 
Burgoa on the palace at Mitla, 
199-201. III. Of the Incas, 
268-269 ; the art in which the 
race showed greatest advance, 
268 ; Sir Clements Markham 
on, 269 

Arriaga, P. J. de. On stone- 
worship in Peru, 293 

Art. Early American, superficial 
resemblance to that of Asia, 1 ; 
native origin and unique cha- 
racter of American, 1-2 ; Toltec, 
23 ; Peruvians weak in, 248 

Asia. Origin of early American 
culture erroneously attributed 
to, 1 ; man originally came to 
America from, 2 ; former land- 
connection between America 
and, 3 ; traditions of inter- 
course between America and, 3 

Ataguju. Supreme divinity of 
the Peruvians ; in a creation- 
myth, 301 

Atamalqualiztli (Fast of Por- 
ridge-balls and Water). Nahua 
festival, 77 

Atatarho. Mythical wizard- 

king of the Iroquois, 72 

Atauhuallpa. Son of the Inca 
Huaina Ccapac ; strives for the 
crown with Huascar, 289-290 

Atl (Water). Mexican deity ; 
often confounded with the 
moon-goddess, 106 

Atlantis. Legends of, have no 
connection with American 
myth, 6 

Auqui (Warrior). Peruvian order 
of knighthood ; instituted by 
Pachacutic, 287 

Avendano, Hernandez de. And 
Peruvian fetishes, 295 

Avilix. The god assigned to 
Balam-Agab in the Kiche story 
of the creation, 230 ; turned 
into stoue, 231 


Axaiacatzin, King. Father ot 
Chachiuhnenetzin, the vicious 
wife of Nezahualpilli, 129 

Axayacatl. Mexican king, 92 

Aymara. Peruvian race, 254- 
255 ; fusion with Quichua, 285- 

Azangaro. The Sondor-huasi at, 

Azcapozalco. Mexican town, 26 ; 
rivalry with Tezcuco, 49 ; Aztecs 
and, 52 

Aztecs (or Azteca) (Crane People). 
A nomad Mexican tribe, 27, 
50-51 ; racial affinities, 27 ; 
character, 27-28 ; Tlascalans 
and, 26 ; founders of Tenoch- 
titlan (Mexico), 27 ; their 
science, 43 ; in bondage to 
Colhuacan, 51 ; allied with 
Tecpanecs, 51 ; war with Tec- 
panecs, 52 ; development of the 
empire, 52 ; commercial expan- 
sion, 52 ; their tyranny, 52-53 ; 
their conception of eternity, 
55 ; the priesthood, 11 4-1 17 ; 
idea of the origin 6T mankind^ 
123 ; a migration myth of, 233 

Aztlan (Crane Land). Tradi- 
tional place of origin of Nahua, 
11 ; Aztecs and, 50, 233 


Bacabs. Genii in Maya mytho- 
logy, 170 

Balam-Agab (Tiger of the Night). 
One of the first men of the 
Popol Vuh myth, 229, 230 

Balam-Quitze (Tiger with the 
Sweet Smile). An ancestor of 
the Maya, 188 ; one of the first 
men of the Popol Vuh myth, 
229, 230 

Balon Zacab. Form of the Maya 
rain-god, 176 

Bat. Typical of the underworld, 

Bat-god. Maya deity, known 
also as Camazotz, 1 71-172 

Birth-cycle. In Mexican calen- 
dar, 39, 41 



Bochica. Sun-god of the Chib- 
chas, 276 

Bogota. City at which the 
Zippa of the Chibchas lived, 276 

Boturini Benaduci, L. His work 
on Mexican lore, 58 

Bourbourg, The Abbe Bras- 
seur de. Version of Nahua 
flood-myth, 122-123 

Brandan, St. Probable voyage 
to America, 4 

Brinton, D. G. Theory as to 
the Toltecs, 21 ; on Quetzal- 
coatl, 81 ; translation of a 
poem on the Peruvian thunder- 
god myth, and comments on 
the myth, 300-301 

Burgoa, Father. Account of a 
confession ceremony, 10S-110; 
description of Mitla, 199-206 

Cabrakan (Earthquake) Son of 
Vukub-Cakix ; in a Kiche myth 
in the Popol Vuh, 211, 213, 216- 

Cabrera, Don Felix. And the 
Popol Vuh, 207 

Cachapucara. Hill ; Thonapa 
and, 319-320 

Caha-Paluma (Falling Water). 
One of the first women of the 
Popol Vuh myth, 230 

Cakixa (Water of Parrots). One 
of the first women of the Popol 
Vuh myth, 230 

Cakulha-Hurakan (Lightning). 
A sub-god of Hurakan, 237 

Calderon, Don Jose. And 
Palenque, 182 

Calendar. I. The Mexican, 38- 
41 ; an essential feature in the 
national life, 38 ; resemblance 
to Maya and Zapotec calendric 
systems, 38, 169 ; possible 
Toltec origin, 39 ; the year, 39 ; 
the " binding of years," 39, 40 ; 
the solar year, 39 ; the nemon- 
temi, 39 ; the " birth-cycle," 
39, 41 ; the cempohualli, or 
" months," 39-40 ; the eccle- 
siastical system, 40 ; the xiu- 

malpilli, 40 ; the ceremony 
of toxilmolpiria, 41. II. The 
Maya; similarities to calendar 
of the Nahua, 38, 169. III. The 
Peruvian, 265-266, 313 

Callca. Place in Peru ; sacred 
rocks found at, 293 

Camaxtli. War-god of the Tlas- 
calans, 111 

Camazotz. The bat-god, called 
also Zotzilaha Chimalman, 171- 
172, 226; a totem of the Ah- 
zotzils, a Maya tribe, 172 

Camulatz. Bird in the Kiche 
story of the creation, 209 

Canaris. Indian tribe ; the 
myth of their origin, 318-319 

Canek. King of Chichen-Itza ; 
the story of, 189 

Cannibalism. Among the Mexi- 
cans, 45 

Capacahuana. Houses for pil- 
grims to Titicaca at, 3 1 1 

Carapucu. I. Hill ; in myth of 
Thonapa, 320. II. Lake ; in 
myth of Thonapa, 320 

Caravaya. Mountain ; in myth 
of Thonapa, 320 

Carmenca. The hill of, at Cuzco ; 
pillars on, for determining the 
solstices, 265-266, 287 

Caruyuchu Huayallo. Peru- 
vian deity to whom children 
were sacrificed ; in a myth of 
Paricaca, 326 

Casa del Adivino (The Prophet's 
House). Ruin at Uxmal, called 
also " The Dwarf's House," 
192 ; the legend relating to, 

Casa del Gobernador (Gover- 
nor's Palace). Ruin at Uxmal, 

Casas Gr andes (Large Houses). 
Mexican ruin, 3? 

Castillo, El. Ruined pyramid- 
temple at Chichen-Itza, 188, 

Cauac. A minor Maya deity, 170 

Cavillaca. A maiden ; the 

myth of Coniraya Viracocha 
and, 321-323 

Caxamarca. Inca fortress, 290 





Cay Hun-Apu (Royal Hunter). 
The Kakchiquels and the defeat 

of, 159 

Ccapac-cocha. Sacrificial rite, 
instituted by Pachacutic, 286 

Ccapac-Huari. Eleventh Inca, 
288, 289 

Ccapac Raymi. The chief Peru- 
vian festival, 267 ; Auqui, 
order of knighthood, conferred 
at, 287 

Ccapac Situa (or Ccoya Raymi) 
(Moon Feast). Peruvian festi- 
val, 267 

Ccapac Yupanqui. Fifth Inca, 

Ccompas. Agricultural fetishes of 
the Peruvians, 294 

Cempohualli. The Mexican 
month, 40 

Centeotl. I. Group of maize- 
gods, 85. II. A male maize- 
spirit, 85, 90 ; God E similar 
to, 174. III. Mother of II, 
known also as Teteoinnan and 
Tocitzin, 85, 90 

Centzonuitznaua. Mythical 

Indian tribe ; in myth of 
Huitzilopochtli's origin, 70-72 

Chac Maya rain-god, tutelar 
of the east, 170 ; has affinities 
with Tlaloc, 176 ; God K not 
identical with, 176 

Chacamarca. River in Peru ; 
Thonapa and, 320 

Chachiuhnenetzin. Wife of 
Nezahualpilli, 129-132 

Chacras. Estates dedicated 

to the sun by the Peruvians, 

310 r 

Chalcas. Aztec tribe, 233 
Chalchihuitlicue (Lady of the 
Emerald Robe). Wife of Tlaloc, 
75, 77, no ; assists the maize- 
goddess, 86 
Chalchiuh Tlatonac (Shining 
Precious Stone). First king of 
the Toltecs, 14 
"Chamayhuarisca" (The Song 
of Joy). Manco Ccapac sings, 
Chanca. A Peruvian people; 

and the Incas, 282 

Charnay, D. Excavations on the 
site of Teotihuacan, 33 ; exca- 
vations at Tollan, 34 ; and 
Lorillard, 195 

Ckasca. The Peruvian name for 
the planet Venus ; the temple 
of, at Cuzco, 262 

Chiapas. Mexican province ; the 
nucleus of Maya civilisation lay 
in, 144, 149 

Chibchas. A Peruvian race, 275- 

Chichan-Chob. RuinatChichen- 
Itza, 189 

Chichen-Itza. Sacred city of the 
Maya ; founded by Itzaes, 153 ; 
overthrown by Cocomes, 153, 
155 ; assists in conquering 
Cocomes, 156 ; abandoned, 156; 
ruins at, 188-190 ; and the 
story of Canek, 189 

Chichicastenango. The Con- 
vent of; and the Popol Vuh, 

Chichics. Agricultural fetishes 
of the Peruvians, 294 

Chichimecs. Aztec tribe ; invade 
Toltec territory, 18 ; the great 
migration, 20 ; supreme in 
Toltec country, 20 ; probably 
related to Otomi, 25 ; allied 
with Nahua and adopt Nahua 
language, 26 ; conquered by 
Tecpanecs, 51 

Chicomecohuatl (Seven-serpent). 
Chief maize-goddess of Mexico, 
85-88 ; image of, erroneously 
called Teoyaominqui by early 
Americanists, 88-90 

CHicoMOZTOc(TheSeven Caverns). 
Nahua said to have originated 
at, 11 ; and Aztec idea of origin 
of mankind, 123 ; identified with 
" seven cities of Cibola " and 
the Casas Grandes, 123 ; paral- 
lel with the Kiche Tulan- 
Zuiva, 230 

Chicuhcoatl. In the story of 
the vicious princess, 130 

Chihuahua. Mexican province, 

Chilan Balam. 1 - Maya priest; the 

prophecy of, 8 


Chimalmat. Wife of Vukub- 
Cakix ; in a Kiche myth, 211- 

Chimalpahin. Mexican chronicle ■, 

Chimu. The plain of ; ruined 

city on, 271 ; the palace, 271- 

272 ; the ruins display an 

advanced civilisation, 272-273 
Chtnchero. Inca ruins at, 269 
Chipi-Cakulha (Lightning-flash). 

A sub-god of Hurakan, 237 
Choima (Beautiful Water). One 

of the first women of the Popol 

Yuh myth, 230 
Ckolula. Sacred city inhabited 

by Acolhuans, 47, 48 ; the 

pottery of, 23 
Chontals. Aboriginal Mexican 

race, 23 
Choqub Suso. Maiden ; the 

myth of Paricaca and, 327 
Chulpas. Megalithic mummy 

tombs of Peru, 263 
Churoquella. A name of the 

Peruvian thunder-god, 299 
" Citadel," The, at Teotihuacan, 

Citallatonac. Mexican deity ; 

in a flood-myth, 123 
Citallinicue. Mexican deity ; 

in a flood-myth, 123 
Citatli (Moon). A form of 

the Mexican moon - goddess, 

Citlalpol (The Great Star). 

Mexican name of the planet 

Venus, 96 
Citoc Raymi (Gradually Increas- 
ing Sun). Peruvian festival, 

Ciuapipiltin (Honoured Women). 

Spirits of women who had died 

in childbed, 108, 138 
Civilisation. I. Of Mexico, 1- 

53 ; indigenous origin of, 1 ; 

type of, 9. II. Of Peru, 248- 

290 ; indigenous origin of, 1, 

259 ; inferior to the Mexican 

and Mayan, 248. III. Of the 

Andeans, 249 
Clavigero, The Abbe. His work 

on Mexican lore, 57-58 

" Cliff-dwellers." Mexican 

race related to the Nahua, 24, 

Cliff Palace Canon, Colorado, 


Coaapan. Place in Mexico, 65 

Coatefec. I. Mexican province, 
62, 63. II. Mountain, 70 

Co ati. An island on Lake Titi- 
caca ; ruined temple on, 270- 

Coatlantona (Robe of Serpents). 
A name of Coatlicue, Huitzilo- 
pochtli's mother, 73 

Coatlicue. Mother of Huitzilo- 
pochtli, 70-71 ; as Coatlan- 
tona, 73 

Cocamama. Guardian spirit of 
the coca-shrub in Peru, 295 

Cochtan. Place in Mexico, 65 

Cocochallo. An irrigation chan- 
nel ; in a myth of Paricaca 


Cocomes. A tribe inhabiting 

Mayapan ; overthrow Chichen- 
Itza, 153 ; their tyranny and 
sway, 154-155 ; conquered by 
allies, 156 ; remnant found 
Zotuta, 156 

Codex Perezianus. Maya manu- 
script, 160 

Cogolludo, D. Lopez. And the 
story of Canek, 189 

Coh, Prince. In the story of 
Queen Moo, 240, 244, 246 

Cohuatzincatl (He who has 
Grandparents). A pulque-god, 

Colcampata, The, at Cuzco. The 

palace on, 269 
Colhuacan. I. Mexican city, 

20, 26, 233. II. King of ; 

father of the sacrificed princess, 

Colla-suvu. One of the four 

racial divisions of ancient Peru, 

2 55 

Con. Thunder-god of Collao of 
Peru, 78, 299 

Confession among the Mexicans, 
106, 108 ; Tlazolteotl the god- 
dess of, 106 ; accounts of the 
ceremony, 1 06-1 10 



Coniraya Viracocha. A Peru- 
vian nature-spirit ; the myth 
of Caviliaca and, 321-323 

Contici (The Thunder Vase). 
Peruvian deity representing the 
thunderstorm, 301 


gives Origin). Peruvian con- 
ception of the creative agency, 

Conti-suyu. One of the four 

racial divisions of ancient Peru, 


Copacahuana. Idol associated 
with the worship of Lake 
Titicaca, 298 

Copacati. Idol associated with 
the worship of Lake Titicaca, 

Copal. Prince ; in legend of 
foundation of Mexico, 28 

Cop an. Maya city ; sculptural 
remains at, 196 ; evidence at, 
of a new racial type, 196-197 

Coricancha (Town of Gold). 
Temple of the sun at Cuzco, 
260-262 ; built by Pachacutic, 
286 ; image of the thunder-god 
in, 300 

Cortes. Lands at Vera Cruz, 7 ; 
mistaken for Quetzalcoatl, 7, 
80 ; the incident of the death 
of his horse at Peten - Itza, 

Cotzbalam. Bird in the Kiche 

story of the creation, 209 
Coxoh Chol dialect, 145 
Coyohuacan. Mexican city, 50 
Coyolxauhqui. Daughter of 

Coatlicue, 70-72 r 

Coyotl inaual. A god of the 

Amantecas ; and Quetzalcoatl, 

Cozaana. A Zapotec deity; in 

creation-myth, 121 
Coze a ap a (Water of Precious 

Stones). A fountain ; in a 

Quetzalcoatl myth, 65 
Cozcatzin Codex, 92 
Cozumel The island of, 154 
Creation. Mexican conceptions 

of, 1 1 8- 1 20 ; the legend given 

by Ixtlilxochitl, 119-120; the 


Mixtec legend of, 1 20-1 21 ; the 
Zapotec legend of, 1 21-122 ; 
the Kiche story of, in the Popol 
Vuh, 209 ; of man, the Popol 
Vuh myth of, 229-230 ; of man, 
a Peruvian myth of, 256 ; the 
Inca conception of, 257-258, 
305 ; local Peruvian myths, 

Cross, Thb. A symbol of the 
four winds in Mexico and Peru, 
273 ; account of the discovery 
of a wooden, 274-275 

Cuchumaquiq. Father of Xquiq ; 
in Popol Vuh myth, 222 

Cuitlavacas. Aztec tribe, 233 

Curi - Coyllur (Joyful Star). 
Daughter of Yupanqui Pacha- 
cutic ; in the drama Apu~ 
Ollanta, 251-253 

Cuycha. Peruvian name for the 
rainbow ; temple of, at Cuzco, 

Cuzco (Navel of the Universe). 
The ancient capital of the 
Incas, 248 ; and the racial 
division of Peru, 255 ; in the 
legend of Manco Ccapac, 256 
a great culture-centre, 256 
founded by the sun -god, 258 
the Coricancha at, 260-262 
power under Pachacutic, 285 


Discovery. American myths 
relating to the, 6 

Dresden Codex. Maya manu- 
script, 160 

Drink-gods, Mexican, 104-105 

" Dwarf's House, The." Ruin 
at Uxmal, 192 ; legend relating 
to, 192-194 

Earth-Mother. See Teteoinnan 
Education. In Mexico, 11 5-1 16 
Ehecatl (The Air). Form of 

Quetzalcoatl, 84 
Ekchuah. Maya god of mer- 
chants and cacao -planters, 170, 


177 ; God L thought to be, 

176 ; probably parallel to Ya- 

catecutli, 177 
" Emerald Fowl," The, 186 
Etzalqualiztli (When they eat 

Bean Food). Festival of Tlaloc, 


Father and Mother Gods, 

Mexican, 103-104 
Fire-god, Mexican, 95 
Fish-gods, Peruvian, 306 
Flood-myths, 122-123, 323-324 
Food-gods, Mexican, 91 
Forstemann, Dr. And the Maya 

writing, 162, 163 ; on God L, 

Fu Sang and America, 3 

Gama, Antonio. His work on 
Mexican lore and antiquities, 58 

Ghanan. Name given to God E 
by Brinton, 174 

God A of Dr. Schellhas' system ; 
a death -god, 172-173 ; thought 
to resemble the Aztec Xipe, 174 

God B. Doubtless Quetzalcoatl, 


God C. A god of the pole-star, 


God D. A moon-god, probably 

Itzamna, 173 
God E. A maize -god, similar 

to Centeotl, 174 
God F. Resembles God A, 174 
God G. A sun-god, 174 
GodH, 174 
God K. Probably a god of the 

Quetzalcoatl group, 175-176 
God L. Probably an earth -god, 

God M. Probably a god of 

travelling merchants, 176-177 
God N. Probably god of the 

" unlucky days," 177 
God P. A frog-god, 1 77 
Goddess I. A water-goddess, 


Goddess O. Probably tutelar of 
married women, 177 

Gods. Connection of, with war 
and the food-supply, 74 ; Nahua 
conception of the limited pro- 
ductivity of food and rain 
deities, 77 ; American myth 
rich in hero-gods, 237 

Gomara, F. L. de. Work on 
Mexican lore, 58 

Guachimines (Darklings). In- 
habitants of the primeval earth 
in Peruvian myth, 301 

Guamansuri. The first of mortals 
in Peruvian myth, 301 

Guatemala. I. The state ; the 
Maya of, 157-159. II. The 
city ; the lost Popol Vuh found 
in, 207 

Gucumatz (Serpent with Green 
Feathers). Kiche form of 

Quetzalcoatl, worshipped in 
Guatemala, 83, 167, 236 ; in 
the Kiche story of the creation, 

Gwyneth, Owen, father of 
Madoc, 5 


Hacavitz. I. The god assigned 

to Mahacutah in the Kiche 

story of the creation, 230 ; 

turned into stone, 231. II. 

Mountain at which the Kiche 

first saw the sun, 231 
Hakluyt. His English Voyages, 

cited, 5 
Hastu-huaraca. Chieftain of 

the Antahuayllas ; defeated by 

Pachacutic, 284-285 ; joins 

with Pachacutic, 285 
Henry VII. His patronage of 

early American explorers, 6 
Hernandez, Father. And the 

goddess Ix chebel yax, 170 
House of Bats. Abode of the 

bat-god, 171 ; mentioned in 

Popol Vuh myth, 226 
Housb of Cold. In the Kiche 

Hades, 226 
House of Darkness. Ruin at 

Ake, 186 



House of Feathers. Toltec 

edifice, 15 
House of Fire. In the Kiche 

Hades, 226 
House of Gloom. In the Kiche 

Hades, 221, 225 
House of Lances. In the Kiche 

Hades, 226 
House of Tigers. In the Kiche 

Hades, 226 
Hrdlicka, Dr. And Mexican 

cliff-dwellings, 24 
Huacaquan. Mountain ; in the 

myth of origin of the Canaris, 

Huacas. Sacred objects of the 

Peruvians, 294 
Huaina Ccapac (The Young 

Chief). Eleventh Inca, 7, 288- 

289 ; and the lake-goddess of 

Titicaca, 299 
Huamantantac. Peruvian deity 

responsible for the gathering 

of sea-birds, 296 
Huanca. Peruvian race ; allied 

against the Incas, 282, 285 
Huancas. Agricultural fetishes 

of the Peruvians, 294 
Huantay-sara. Idol represent- 
ing the tutelary spirit of the 

maize plant, 295 
Huarcans. The Inca Tupac and, 

Huarco (The Gibbet). The valley 

of ; the Inca Tupac and the 

natives of, 288 
Huaris (Great Ones). Ancestors 

of the aristocrats of a tribe in 

Peru ; reverence paid to, 296 
Huarochiri. Village ; in Coni- 

raya myth, 323 


(The Sun makes Joy). Son 

of the Inca Huaina Ccapac, 7 ; 

strives for the crown with 

Atauhuallpa, 289-290 
Huasteca. Aboriginal Mexican 

race of Maya stock, 23, 147- 
48 ; probably represent early 

Maya efforts at colonisation, 147 
Huatenay. River in Peru ; runs 

through the Intipampa at 

Cuzco, 261 

Huathiacuri. A hero, son of 
Paricaca ; a myth of, 324-326 

Huatulco. Place in Mexico ; 
Toltecsat, 12 

Huehuequauhtitlan. Place in 
Mexico ; Quetzalcoatl at, 64 

Huehueteotl (Oldest of Gods). 
A name of the Mexican nre- 
god, 95 

Huehub Tlap allan (Very Old 
Tlapallan). In Toltec creation- 
myth, 119 

Huehuetzin. Toltec chieftain; 
rebels against Acxitl, 18, 19 

Huemac II. Toltec king, 15, 16 ; 
abdicates, 17 ; opposes Hue- 
huetzin, 19 

Huexotzinco. Mexican city, 48, 


Huexotzincos. Aztec tribe, 233 

Hueymatzin (Great Hand). Tol- 
tec necromancer and sage, 14 ; 
reputed author of the Teo- 
Amoxtli, 46; and Quetzalcoatl, 

Hueytozoztli (The Great Watch). 
Festival of Chicomecohuatl, 86 

Huichaana. Zapotec deity ; in 
creation-myth, 121, 122 

Huillcam ayu ( Huillca - river ). 
River in Peru ; regarded as an 
oracle, 296 

Huillcanuta. Place in Peru, 

Huillcas. Sacred objects of the 
nature of oracles, in Peru, 296 

Huitzilimitzin. In the story of 
the vicious princess, 130 

Huitzilopocho. Mexican city, 

Huitzilopochtli (Humming-bird 
to the Left). Aztec god of war, 
originally a chieftain, 28, 70 ; 
and the foundation of Mexico, 
28 ; the great temple of, 
at Mexico, 30, 31 ; plots 
against the Toltecs and Quet- 
zalcoatl, 60 ; and the legend 
of the amusing infant and the 
pestilence, 63-64 ; myth of the 
origin of, 70-72 ; associated 
with the cerpent and the hum- 
ming-bird, 72-73 ; as usually 


represented, 73 ; associated 
with the gladiatorial stone, 73 ; 
as Mexitli, 74 ; as serpent god 
of lightning, associated with 
the summer, 74 ; in connection 
with Tlaloc, 74 ; the Toxcatl 
festival of, 74 ; the priesthood 
of, 75 ; in connection with the 
legend of the sacrificed princess, 

Hun-Apu (Master, or Magician). 
A hero-god, twin with Xbal- 
anque ; in a Kiche myth, 211- 
219 ; in the myth in the second 
book of the Popol Vuh, 220, 
223-227 ; mentioned, 237 

Hun-Camb. One of the rulers of 
Xibalba, the Kiche Hades, 220, 
221, 224 

Hunabku. God of the Maya, 
representing divine unity, 171 

Hunac Eel. Ruler of the Co- 
comes, 155 

Hunbatz. Son of Hunhun-Apu, 
220, 222, 223 

Hunchouen. Son of Hunhun- 
Apu, 220, 222, 223 

Hunhun-Apu. Son of Xpiyacoc 
and Xmucane ; in the myth in 
the second book of the Popol 
Vuh, 220-222, 224, 225, 227 

Hunpictok (Commander-in-Chief 
of Eight Thousand Flints). The 
palace of, at Itzamal, 187-188 

Hunsa. City at which the Zoque 
of the Chibchas lived, 276 

Hurakan (The One-legged). 
Maya god of lightning ; proto- 
type of Tlaloc, 76, 78 ; the 
mustachioed image of, at 
Itzamal, 188 ; = the mighty 
wind, in the Kiche story of the 
creation, 209 ; and the creation 
of man in the second book of 
the Popol Vuh, 229-230 ; prob- 
ably same as Nahua Tezcatli- 
poca, 237 ; his sub-gods, 237 

Icutemal. Ruler of the Kiche, 

Ilhuicatlan (In the Sky). 
Column in temple at Mexico, 
connected with the worship of 
the planet Venus, 96 

Illatici (The Thunder Vase). 
Peruvian deity representing the 
thunderstorm, 301 

Inca Roca. Sixth Inca, 283 

Incas (People of the Sun). The 
Peruvian ruling race ; a compo- 
site people, 254 ; place of origin, 
254 ; inferior to the Mexicans 
in general culture, 248 ; mytho- 
logy of, 355-258, 3-^£*7 ; 
character of their civilisation, 
»59>; no personal freedom, 
260 ; age of marriage, 260 ; 
their system of mummification, 
262-264 ; severity of their 
legal code, 264 ; social system, 
264-265 ; calendar, 265-266 ; 
religious festivals, 267 ; archi- 
tecture, 268-269 ; architec- 
tural remains, 270-273 ; irri- 
gation works, 273 ; possessed 
no system of writing, 2^8 ; the 
quipos, 278-279 ; as craftsmen, 
279-281 ; the pottery of, 280- 
281 ; period and extent of their 
dominion, 281-282 ; fusion of 
the constituent peoples, 2S5- 
286 ; splitting of the race, 286 ; 
their despotism, 290 ; religion 
of, 291 ; sun-worship of, 307- 


Incas. The rulers of Peru, 282- 
290 ; the Inca the representa- 
tive of the sun, 260 ; unlimited 
power of, 260 ; the moon the 
mythic mother of the dynasty, 

Inti-huasi. Building sacred to 
the sun in Peruvian villages, 

Intihuatana. Inca device for 
marking the date of the sun- 
festivals, 265 

Intip Raymi (Great Feast of the 
Sun). Peruvian festival, 267, 

Intipampa (Field of the Sun). 
Garden in which the Coricancha 
of Cuzco stood, 260-261 



Ipalnemohuani (He by whom 
Men Live). Mexican name of 
the sun-god, 97 

Iqi-Balam (Tiger of the Moon). 
One of the first men of 
the Popol Vuh myth, 229, 

Irma. District in Peru ; local 
creation-myth of , 258-259 

Itzaes. A warlike race, founders 
of Chichen-Itza, 153 

Itzamal. Maya city-state in 
Yucatan, 8, 152, 154 ; ruins at, 

Itzamna. Maya moon -god, 

father of gods and men, tutelar 
of the west, 170 ; founder of the 
state of Itzamal, 152 ; God D 
probably is, 173; the temple 
of, at Itzamal, 187 ; called also 
Kab-ul (The Miraculous Hand), 
187 ; the gigantic image of, 
at Itzamal, 188 

Ix. A minor Maya deity, 170 

Ix chebel yax. Maya goddess ; 
identified with Virgin Mary by 
Hernandez, 170 

Ix ch'el. Maya goddess of medi- 
cine, 170 

Ixcoatl. Mexican king, 35 

Ixcuiname. Mexican goddesses 
of carnal things, 108 

Ixtlilton (The Little Black One). 
Mexican god of medicine and 
healing, 112 ; called brother of 
Macuilxochitl, 112 


de Alva. Mexican chronicler, 
11, 46 ; account of. the early 
Toltec migrations, fi, 12 ; and 
myths of the Toltecs, 13 ; 
reference to the Teo-Amoxtli, 
45 ; his Historia Chichimeca 
and Relaciones, 46, 58 ; his 
value as historian, 46 ; legend 
of the creation related by, 119- 

Izimin Chac. The image of 
Cortes' horse, 195 

Izpuzteque. Demon in the 
Mexican Other-world, 38 

Iztacmixcohuatl. Father of 
Quetzalcoatl, 79 



Jaguar-Snake. Mixtec deer 
goddess ; in creation-myth, 120 

Jalisco. Mexican province ; cliff- 
dwellings in, 24, 23 


Kabah. Maya city ; ruins at, 

Kab-ul (The Miraculous Hand). 
Name given to Itzamna, 187 

Kakchiquel dialect, 145 

Kakchiquels. A Maya people 
of Guatemala, 157-159 ; and 
the episode of the defeat of 
CayHun-Apu, 159 
Kamucu " (We see). The song 
of the Kiche at the first appear- 
ance of the sun, and at death of 
the first men, 232 

Kan. A minor Maya deity, 1 70 

Kanikilak. Indian deity, 83, 84 

Ki Pixab (Corner of the Earth). 
Name given by the Kiche to 
their land of origin, 254 

Kiche. A Maya people of Guate- 
mala, 157-159 ; their rulers 
supreme in Guatemala, 158; 
their story of the creation as 
related in the Popol Vuh, 209 ; 
origin of, as related in the 
Popol Vuh, 229-230 ; fond of 
ceremonial dances and chants, 

Kiche (or Quiche) dialect, 145, 
209 ; the Popol Vuh originally 
written in, 207, 209 

" Kingdom of the Great 
Snake." Semi -historical Maya 
empire, 144 

Kinich-ahau (Lord of the Face 
of the Sun). Same as Arara 
and Kinich-Kakmo. Sun-god 
of the Maya of Yucatan, tutelar 
of the north, 170 

Kinich-Kakmo (Sun-bird). I. 
Same as Kinich-ahau, which see. 
II. The pyramid of, ruin at 
Itzamal, 187 

Klaproth, H. J. von. And the 
Fu Sang fallacy, 3 


Knuc (Palace of Owls). Ruin at 

Ake, 186 
Kuicatecs. Aboriginal Mexican 

race, 24 ; a medium through 

which Maya civilisation filtered 

to the north, 147 
Kukulcan. Maya form of Quet- 

zalcoatl, 83, 167 ; regarded as 

King of Mayapan, 152 
Kumsnootl. God of the Salish 

Indians, 83 

Lamacazton (Little Priests). 
Lowest order of the Aztec 
priesthood, 116 

Landa, Bishop. And the Maya 
alphabet, 161 ; discovers the 
Maya numeral system, 165 

M Lands of the Sun." Name 
given to Inca territories, 308 

Language. Mexican or Nahuan, 
42-43, 342; Mayan, 161, 342; 
Peruvian, 342 

Le Plongeon, Dr. Augustus. 
His theories as to the Maya, 
239 ; and the Maya hiero- 
glyphs, 239 ; his story of Queen 
Moo, 239-247 

Leguicano, Mancio Serra de. 
And the golden plate from the 
Coricancha, 262 

Liypbaa. Village near Mitla ; 

mentioned by Father Burgoa, 

Lizana, Father. And the pro- 
phecy of Chilan Balam, 8 

Llama. Importance of, among 
the Incas, 268 

Lloque Yupanqui. The third 
Inca, 283 

Lorillard. Maya city ; archi- 
tectural remains found at, 195 


Macuilxochitl (or Xochipilli) 
(Five -Flower, Source of 
Flowers). God of luck in 
gaming, 103 ; Ixtlilton called 
brother of, 112 

Madoc. The legend of, 5, 6 

Mahacutah (The Distinguished 
Name). One of the first men 
of the Popol Vuh myth, 229, 230 

Maize-gods. Mexican, 85-91 ; 
Peruvian, 295 

Mallinalcas. Aztec tribe, 233 

Mama Oullo Huaca. Wife of 
Manco Ccapac, 256 

Mama-cocha (Mother-sea). Con- 
ception under which the Peru- 
vians worshipped the sea, 306 

Mamacota. Name given to Lake 
Titicaca by people of the 
Collao, 298 

Mamacuna. Matrons who had 
charge of the Acllacuna, in 
Peru, 313 

Mamapacha (or Pachamama). 
The Peruvian earth-goddess, 

Mamas (Mothers). Tutelary 
spirits of the maize and other 
plants in Peru, 295 

Mames. District in Guatemala, 

Man of the Sun. Quetzalcoati 
as, 81 ; other conceptions of, 


Manco. The Inca appointed by 
Pizarro ; and an oracle, 302-303 

Manco Ccapac. I. Divine being, 
son of the Life-giver ; sent to 
instruct the primitive Peru- 
vians, 255-256 ; a legend in 
connection with, 256. II. The 
first Inca, identical with the 
foregoing, 282, 283 ; regarded 
as son of the sun, 306 ; a myth 

of, 32°-32i 
Mani. Mexican city, founded by 

theTutul Xius, 155 
Mannikins. In the Kiche story 

of the creation related in the 

Popol Vuh, 209-210 
Markham, Sir Clements. On 

Inca architecture, 269 
Matlatzincas. Aztec tribe, 233 
Maxtla. I. King of the Tec- 

panecs ; and Nezahualcoyotl, 

125-128. II. A noble ; in the 

story of the vicious princess, 130 
Maya. The most highly civilised 

of ancient American peoples, 1, 

: 353 


143 J their culture erroneously 
stated to be of Asiatic origin, 1 ; 
theory as to Toltec relationship, 
143 ; sphere of the civilisation, 
144 ; the nucleus of the civilisa- 
tion, 144-145, 149 ; the dialects, 
145; origin of the race, 145; 
their civilisation self -developed, 
143, 146; blood and cultural 
relationships with Nahua, 146- 

147 ; efforts at expansion, 147- 

148 ; climatic influence on the 
civilisation and religion, 148 : 
sources of their history, 148- 

149 ; division of the aristocratic 
and labouring classes, 150 ; in- 
fluence of the Nahua invasions, 
151 ; cleavage between Yuca- 
tan and Guatemala peoples, 

151 ; the Yucatec race, 151- 

152 ; incidents in migration 
myths represent genuine expe- 
rience, 152 ; the race in Guate- 
mala, 157 ; the writing system, 
159-166; the manuscripts, 160- 
161 ; the numeral system, 165 ; 
the mythology, 166-169, 207- 
247 ; the calendar, 38, 39, 169 ; 
the pantheon, 168, 170-177 ; 
architecture, 178-198 ; relation- 
ship of the mythology t« that 
of the Nahua, 166 ; Dr. Le 
Plongeon's theories as to, 239 

Mayapan. City-state in Yucatan, 
152; rises into prominence, 153, 
155; overthrown by allies, 156 

Mayta Ccapac. The fourth Inca, 

Meahuan, Mount. In the Kiche 
myth of Vukub-Cakix, 216 

Medicine-men. Account of the 
methods of, among Peruvians, 

Metztli (or Yohualticitl) (The 
Lady of Night). Mexican god- 
dess of the moon, 106 ; in myth 
of Nanahuatl, 93, 106 

Mexicatl Teohuatzin (Mexican 
Lord of Divine Matters). Head 
of the Aztec priesthood, 116 

Mexico. I. The city ; capital 
of the Aztecs, native name 
Tenochtitlan, 26, 47 • origin 


of the name, 73 ; said to have 
been founded by Acolhuans, 
26 ; Huitzilopochtli and, 28, 
73 ; legends of the foundation 
of, 28-29 ; at the period of the 
conquest, 29-30 ; the annual 
" bloodless battle " with Tlas- 
cala, 48. II. The state ; the 
civilisation of, 1, 9 ; possibly 
reached by early Norsemen, 5 

Mexico-Tenochtitlan. Native 
name of city of Mexico, 29 

Mexitli (Hare of the Aloes). A 
name of Huitzilopochtli, 74 

Mictecaciuatl. Wife of Mict- 
lan, 96 

Mictlan (or Mictlantecutli) 
(Lord of Hades). I. Mexican 
god of the dead and the under- 
world, 37, 76, 95-96 ; "God A 
probably identical with, 173. 
II. The abode of the god Mict- 
lan ; Mitla identified with, 198. 

w III. Village mentioned by Tor- 
quemada, 199 

Migration Myths. Probably re- 
flect actual migrations, 234-235 

Mitla. Maya city, 31, 144 ; 
ruins at, 197-198 ; identified 
with Mictlan, the Mexican 
Hades, 198 ; description of, by 
Father Torquemada, 199 ; de- 
scription of, by Father Burgoa, 

Mixcoatl (Cloud Serpent) Aztec 
god of the chase, 110-111 ; 
Camaxtli identified with, in 

Mixb. Aboriginal Mexican race, 

Mixteca. Aboriginal Mexican 
race, 23 ; creation-myth of, 
120-121 ; a medium through 
which Maya civilisation passed 
north, 147 

Moche. Place in Peru ; sepulchral 
mound at, 271 

Mohanes (or Agoreros). Mem- 
bers of Peruvian tribes who 
claimed power as oracles, 297- 

Moneneque (The Claimer of 
Prayer). A name of Tezcatli- 
poca, 67 


Montezuma II. Mexican emperor, 
native name Motequauhzoma ; 
mentioned, 35, 44 ; and the 
coming of Cortes, 7 ; in the 
story of Tlalhuicole, 136-137 ; 
in the story of Princess Papan, 

M60, Queen. The story of, 239- 

Moon, The. Mythic mother of 
the Inca dynasty, 262 ; temple 
of, at Cuzco, 261-262 ; wife of 
the sun, in the mythology of 
the Chibchas, 276 

Muluc. A minor Maya deity, 1 70 

Mummification. Among the 
Peruvians, 262-264 


Nadaillac, Marquis db. Ac- 
count of the use of quipos, 278- 

Nahua (Those who live by Rule). 
Ancient Mexican race, 9 ; civili- 
sation, features in, and cha- 
racter of, 9, 146, 148 ; com- 
pared with Oriental peoples, 
10 ; meaning of the name, 10 ; 
place of origin, 10- 11 ; route 
of migrations to Mexico, 12 ; 
theory of Toltec influence 
upon, 22 ; and cliff-dwellers, 
24-25 ; territories occupied by, 
25 ; writing system of, 34-35 ; 
calendric system of, 38-41 ; 
language of, 42-43 ; science of, 

43 ; form of government, 43- 

44 ; domestic life of, 44-45 ; 
distribution of the component 
tribes, 47 ; authentic history 
of the nation, 48-53 ; religion, 
54 ; Tezcatlipoca and, 67 ; 
influence of the Maya civilisa- 
tion upon, 147 ; culture and 
religion influenced by climatic 
conditions, 148 ; invade Maya 
territory, 150-151 ; influenco 
Maya cleavage, 151 ; in the 
Maya conflict in Guatemala, 
159 ; the relationship of the 
mythology of, to that of the 

Maya, 166 ; difference in sun 

worship of, from Peruvian, 307- 

Nahuatlatolli. The Nahua 

tongue, 25 
NaNahuatl (Poor Leper) (or 

Nanauatzin). Mexican god of 

skin diseases, 93 ; the myth of, 

93 ; Xolotl probably identical 

with, 93 
Nanauatzin. Same as Nana- 

huatl, which see 
Nanihehecatl. Form of Quet- 

zalcoatl, 84 
Nata. The Mexican Noah, 122- 

Nauhollin (The Four Motions). 

Mexican sacrificial ceremonies. 

Nauhyotl. Toltec ruler of Col- 

huacan, 20 
Nemontemi (unlucky days). In 

Mexican calendar, 39, 40 
Nena. Wife of Nata, the Mexican 

Noah, 122-123 
Nexiuhilpilitztli (binding of 

years). In Mexican calendar, 

39, 40 

Nextepehua. Fiend in the Mexi- 
can Other-world, 38 

Nezahualcoyotl (Fasting Coy- 
ote). King of Tezcuco ; the 
story of, 125-128 ; his en- 
lightened rule, 128 ; as a poet, 
128 ; his theology, 128 ; and 
his son's offence, 129 ; his 
palace, 132 ; his villa of Tez- 
cotzinco, 133-136 

Nezahualpilli (The Hungry 
Chief). I. A manifestation of 
Tezcatlipoca, 66. II. Son of 
Nezahualcoyotl ; story of his 
wife's crime, 129-132 ; in the 
story of Princess Papan, 140 

Nima-Kiche. The ancestor of 
the Kiche race ; the legend of, 

Ninxor - Carchah. Place in 
Guatemala; mentioned in Popoi 
Vuh myth, 224 

Niti^apoloa. Ceremony con- 
nected with worship of Centeotl 
the son, 90 



Nonohualco. Place in Mexico ; 

Tutul Xius may have come 

from, 153 
Norsemen. Voyages of the, to 

America, 5 
Nunnery. The ruin at Chichen- 

Itza, 189-190 


Obsequies. In Peru ; a descrip- 
tion of, 316-317 
Ocosingo. Ruined Maya city, 

Ollanta. Inca chieftain ; in the 

drama Apu-Ollanta, 251-253 
Ollantay-tampu. Prehistoric 

ruins at, 250-251 ; Apu-Ollanta, 

the drama legend of, 251-253 
Omacatl (Two Reeds). Mexican 

god of festivity, 112-113 
Omeciuatl. Mexican mother god 

of the human species, associated 

with Ometecutli, 103-104, 118 ; 

Xmucane the Kiche equivalent 

of, 236 
Ometecutli (Two -Lord). Father 

god of the human species, 

associated with Omeciuatl, 103- 

104, 118 ; Xpiyacoc the Kiche 

equivalent of, 236 
Ometochtli. I. A pulque-god, 

104. II. A day in the Mexican 

calendar, 105 
Opochtli (The Left - handed). 

Mexican god of fishers and bird- 
catchers, 1 1 3-1 1 4 
Oracles in Peru, 296-297 ; a 

legend connected with an oracle, 

Otomi. Aboriginal Mexican race, 

23. 2 5. 5° 
Owen, Guttyn. Mentioned, 6 

Oxford Codex, 37 

Paapiti. Island on Lake Titi- 
caca ; Huaina Ccapac and the 
lake-goddess and, 299 

Pacari Tampu (House of the 
Dawn). Place of origin of 
four brothers and sisters who 


initiated the 93' , stems of worship 
and civilised Peru, 305, 307 

Pacaw. A sorcerer mentioned 
in Popol Vuh myth, 227 

Paccariscas. Holy places of 
origin of the Peruvian tribes, 
292, 293, 305 

Pachacamac. I. The supreme 
divinity of the Incas, known 
also as Pacharurac, 257, 303- 
304 ; not a primitive conception, 
257 ; in the local creation-myth 
of Irma, 258-259 ; the Ccapac 
Raymi the national festival of, 
267 ; Yatiri the Aymara name 
for, 299 ; symbol of , in the Cori- 
cancha, 304 ; regarded as son of 
the sun, 306 ; daughters of, in the 
Coniraya myth, 323. II. Sacred 
city of the Incas, 310 ; ruins of, 
273 ; in the Coniraya myth, 322 

Pachacamama (Earth - Mother). 
Name given by the Incas to 
their conception of the earth, 257 

Pachacta unanchac. Inca device 
for determining the solstices, 

Pachacutic (or Yupanqui Pacha- 
cutic) (He who changes the 
World). Ninth Inca; in the 
drama Apu-Ollanta, 251-252 ; 
defeats Hastu-huaraca, 282, 
284-285 ; fprmerly known as 
Yupanqui, 285 ; his extensive 
dominion, 286 ; his achieve- 
ments as ruler, 286-287 ; a man 
like the Mexican Nezahual- 
coyotl, 291 ; and the legend 
of the stones that turned 
into warriors, 294 ; and the 
thunder-god, 300 ; and the 
conception of the creator, 304 ; 
introduces sun-worship, 308 ; 
the vision of, 317-318 

Pachamama (or Mamap\cha) 
(Earth -Mother). The Peruvian 
earth-goddess, 303 

Pacharurac. A name of Pacha- 
camac, which see 

Pachayachachic. A form of 
Pachacamac, regarded as direct 
ruler of the universe, 299, 304 j 
Viracocha called, 307 


" Palace of Owls." Ruin at 
Ake, 1 86 

Palace, The, at Palenque, 183- 

Palenque. Maya city, 144, 149, 
182-186; the Palace at, 183- 
185; Temple of Inscriptions at, 
185 ; Temple of the Sun, 185 
Temple of the Cross, 185 
Temple of the Cross No. II, 186 
" Tablet of the Cross " at, 161, 

Palpan. Hill near Tollan ; exca- 
vations at, 34 

Papantzin. Sister of Monte- 
zuma II ; the story of her 
return from the tomb, 139-142 

Papaztac (The Nerveless). A 
pulque-god, 104 

Pariacaca. I. A name of the 
Peruvian thunder-god, 299- 
300 ; and the lake of Pariacaca, 
300. II. The lake of, 300 

Paricaca. A hero, father of 
Huathiacuri ; in the Huathia- 
curi myth, 324-326 ; in a flood- 
myth, 326-327 ; and the Choque 
Suso myth, 327 

Paris (or Tellerio-Remensis) 
Codex, 37 

Patecatl. A pulque-god, 104 

V Path of the Dead, The," at 
Teotihuacan, 33 

Payne, E. J. On the origin of 
the Maya culture, 1 ; on the 
origin of the Nahua, 10 ; on the 
Toltecs, 21 ; on the Teoyao- 
minqui fallacy, 88-90 

Peru. The civilisation of, 1, 
248-290 ; the country, 248- 
249 ; the people, 253-255 ; 
the mythology, 255-259, 291- 
327 ; government, 259-260, 
290 ; laws and customs, 264- 
265 ; the calendar, 265-266 ; 
the festivals, 267 ; architec- 
ture and architectural remains, 
259, 268-273 ; irrigation works, 
273 ; no writing or numeral 
system, 278 ; craftsmanship, 
259, 279-281 ; history, 281- 
290 ; religion, 291-31. { ; human 
sacrifice, 313 

Peten-Itza. Maya city, founded 
by a prince of Chichen-Itza, 
156 ; the incident of Cortes and 
his horse at, 195-196 ; a city 
"filled with idols," 196 

Petlac. Place mentioned in 
myth of Huitzilopochtli's origin, 

Piedras Negras. Ruined Maya 
city, 149 

" Pigeon House." Ruin at 
Uxmal, 194 

Piguerao. Peruvian deity, 

brother of Apocatequil ; in a 
creation-myth, 301 

Pill an. Thunder-god of abo- 
rigines of Chile, analogous to 
Tlaloc, 78 

Pillco-puncu. Door to be passed 
before reaching Rock of Titi- 
caca, 311 

Pinturas. Mexican hieroglyphs, 
or picture-writing, 7, 34-37 


Piqui-Chaqui (Flea-footed). Ser- 
vant of Oilanta, 251 

Pissac Ruined Inca fortress at, 

Pitu Salla. Guardian of Yma 
Sumac, 253 

Pizarro, Francisco. Conqueror 
of Peru, 2$ 5 

Pizarro, Pedro. Cousin of 
Francisco Pizarro, 262 

" Place of Fruits." Valley in 
which Tollan stood, 14 

Pleiades. Kiche myth of the 
origin of, 215 

Pocomams. District in Guate- 
mala, 158 

Popocatepetl. The mountain ; 
sacred to Tlaloc, 77 

race, 24 

" Popol Vuh " (The Collection of 
Written Leaves). A volume of 
Maya- Kiche mythology and his- 
tory, 152, 157, 158 ; description, 
207-209 ; genuine character, 
208 ; probable date of composi- 
tion, 235 ; antiquity, 236, 238 ; 
the gods and others menti oned in , 
236-237 ; probably a metrical 


Aboriginal Mexican 


composition originally, 237- 
238. The first book : The crea- 
tion, 209 ; the downfall ol man, 
209-210 ; story of Vukub-Cakix, 
210-213 ; the undoing of 
Zipacna, 213-216 ; the over- 
throw of Cabrakan, 216-219 ; 
the creation-story probably the 
result of the fusion of several 
myths, 235. The second book: 
Hunhun-Apu and Vukub-Hun- 
apu descend to the Under- 
world, 220-221; Hunhun-Apu 
and Xquiq, 222 ; birth and 
exploits of Hun-Apu and 
Xbalanque, 223-224 ; the hero- 
brothers in Xibalba, and the 
discomfiture of the Lords of 
Hell, 225-227 ; the conception 
in this book common to other 
mythologies, 228 ; the savage 
dread of death probably respon- 
sible for the conception of its 
vanquishment, 228 ; other 
sources of the myth, 228. The 
third book : Man is created, 

229 ; woman is created, 230 ; 
gods are vouchsafed to man, 

230 ; Tohil provides fire, 230- 

231 ; the race is confounded in 
speech and migrates, 231 ; the 
sun appears, 231 ; death of the 
first men, 232 ; resemblance 
of the myth to those of other 
American peoples, 232 ; simi- 
larity of the migration-story 
to others, 233-234 ; probable 
origin of the migration-myth, 
234-235. The fourth book, 238- 

239 " r 

Potosi. Peruvian city, 248 
Powel. History of Wales, cited, 5 


Quetzalcoatl myth, 65 

Ppapp-Hol-Chac (The House of 
Heads and Lightnings). Ruin 
at Itzamal, 187 

Priesthood, Mexican, 114-117 ; 
power of, 114; beneficent 
ministrations of , 115 ; revenues 
of, 115 ; education conducted 
by, 115-116; orders of, 116; 
vigorous existence of, 116-117 


Pucara. Peruvian fortress-city ; 
leader in the Huanca alliance, 

Pueblo Indians. Probably re- 
lated to Nahua, 24 

Pulque. The universal Mexican 
beverage, 45 


Puma-puncu. Door to be passed 

before reaching Rock of Titi- 

caca, 311 
Puma-Snake. Mixtec deer-god; 

in creation-myth, 120 
Pumatampu. Place in Peru ; Inca 

Roca defeats the Conti-suyu at, 

Purunpacha. The period after 

the deluge when there was no 

king, in Peru, 324 
Pyramid of Sacrifice. Ruin at 

Uxmal, 194 


Quaaqua. Sun-god of the Salish 
Indians, 83 

Quacamayo Birds. In a myth of 
theCanaris Indians, 319 

Quaquiutl. Indian tribe, 83 

Quatlapanqui (The Head- 
splitter). A pulque-god, 104 

Quatavita, The Lake of. The 
Chibchas and, 276 


the Eagles). Sacrifice to the 

sun in, 99 
Quauhtitlan. Place mentioned 

in legend of QuetzalcoatPs 

journey from Tollan, 64 
Quauhxicalli (Cup of the 

Eagles). Mexican sacrificial 

stone, 99, 100 
Quauitleua. Festival of Tlaloc, 


Quauitlicac. In myth of Huit- 
zilopochtli's origin, 71, 72 

Quemada. Place in Mexico ; 
cyclopean ruins at, 32 

Quenti - puncu. Door to be 
passed before reaching Rock of 
Titicaca, 311 

Quetzalcoatl (" Feathered Ser- 
pent " or " Feathered Staff ") 


The Kukulcan of the Maya, 
god of the sun, the wind, and 
thunder, common to Mexican 
and Maya mythologies ; Mexi- 
can legend of, 6-7 ; probably 
cognate with Yetl, 12 ; king 
of the Toltecs in Nahua myth, 
21 ; Tezcatlipoca and, 60, 79 ; 
Huitzilopochtli, Tezcatlipoca, 
and Tlacahuepan plot against, 
60; quits Tollan and proceeds to 
Tlapallan, 64-65, 79 ; probably 
a god of pre-Nahua people, 78 ; 
" Father of the Toltecs," 79 ; 
enlightened sway as ruler of 
Tollan, 79 ; consequences of 
his exile, 79 ; legend of, in 
connection with the morning 
star, 80, 96 ; whether rightly 
considered god of the sun, 80 ; 
conception of, as god of the 
air, 80 ; as wind-god and god 
of fire and light, 80-81 ; whether 
originating from a " culture- 
hero," 81 ; the " St. Thomas " 
idea, 81 ; as Man of the Sun, 
81-82 ; as usually represented, 
82 ; regarded as a liberator, 
82 ; various conceptions of, 
82-84, x ^7 ; probable northern 
origin, 83 ; Hueymatzin and, 
84 ; the worship of, 84-85 ; 
the priesthood of, 116 ; place 
in the Mexican calendar, 122 ; 
vogue among Maya, 144, 167 ; 
regarded as foreign to the soil 
in Mexico, 167 ; differences in 
the Maya and Nahua concep- 
tions of, 167 ; called Kukulcan 
by the Maya, 167 ; called 
Gucumatz in Guatemala, 167, 
236 ; God B probably is, 173 

Quetzalpetlatl. Female coun- 
terpart of Quetzalcoatl, 79 

Quiche. Same as Kiche, which see 

Quichua. Peruvian race, 254- 
255 ; fusion of, with Aymara, 

Quichua-Aymara. The Inca race. 
See Incas 

Quichua Chinchay-suyu. One 
of the four racial divisions oi 
ancient Peru, 255 

Quinames. Earth-giants j in 
Toltec creation-myth, 120 

Quineveyan. Grotto, mentioned 
in Aztec migration-myth, 233 

Quinuamama. Guardian spirit 
of the quinua plant, in Peru, 


Quipos. Cords used by the Incas 
for records and communica- 
tions, 278-279 ; account of the 
use of, by the Marquis de 
Nadaillac, 278-279 

Quito. Sometime centre of the 
northern district of Peru, 286, 


Raxa-Cakulha. A sub-god of 

Hurakan, 237 
Religion. I. Of the Nahua, 54- 

55 ; the worship of one god, 

58-59. II. Of the Peruvians, 

291 ; inferior to the Mexican, 

248 ; the legend relating to the 

evolution of, 305-306 
Riopampa. Sometime centre of 

the northern district of Peru, 

Rosny, Leon de. Research on 

the Maya writing by, 161-162 
Rumi-naui. Inca general ; in 

the drama Apu-Ollanta, 252- 



Sacrifice, Human. In connec- 
tion with Teotleco festival, 69 ; 
with Toxcatl festival, 69-70 • 
with Tlaloc, 76-77 ; displaced 
by " substitution of part for 
whole," 85, 116; in the Xala- 
quia festival, 87 ; in connection 
with Xipe, 92 ; Xolotl the 
representative of, 93 ; in wor- 
ship of the plane*. Venus, 96 ; 
in sun-worship, 98-100, 101 ; 
the keynote of Nahua mytho 
logy, 166 ; among the Maya, 
166 ; at Mitla, described by 
Father Burgoa, 202-203 ; among 
the Chibchas, 276 ; in Peru, 313 

Sacrificed Princess, the legend 
of the, 123-124 



Sacsahuaman. Inca fortress; the 
ruins of, 250; built by Pacha - 
cutic, 287 

Sahagun, Father Bernardino. 
His work on Mexican lore, 56- 
57 ; account of the Teotleco 
festival, 68-69 ; account of a 
confession ceremony, 106-108 

Salish Indians, 83 

" Salvador," The. A curious 
lnca vase, 281 

San Carlos. The University of, 
in Guatemala ; the lost Popol 
Vuh found in, 207 

San Lorenzo. Village ; in a 
myth ol Paricaca, 327 

Saramama. Guardian spirit of 
the maize plant, in Peru, 295 

Schellhas, Dr. And the Maya 
writing, 162 ; and names of 
the Maya deities, 168 

Scherzer, Dr. C. Finds the lost 
Popol Vuh, 207 

Sea. Worshipped by the Peru- 
vians as Mama-cocha, 306 

Seler, Dr. On Quetzalcoatl, 80- 
81 ; on Xolotl, 93-94 ; and the 
Maya writing, 162, 164 ; on 
God K, 175-176 ; on God P, 
177 ; on Mitla and the origin 
of the American race, 198 

Serpent. Varied significance of 
the, 72, 74, 76 ; association of 
Huitziiopochtli with, 72-73 ; 
associated with the bird, 73 

Seven Caverns. Myth of the, 

Sierra Nevada (Mountain of 
Snow). In legend of Quetzal- 
coatl's migration, 65 

Sinchi Roca (Wise Chief). The 
second Inca, 283 

Skinner, J. Account of the dis- 
covery of a wooden cross, 274- 
275 ; on mohunes, 297-298 ; 
account of the methods of 
medicine men in Peru. 314 315; 
account of obsequies among a 
Peruvian tribe, 315 317 

Slaalekam. Sun -god of the 

Salish Indians, 83 

Sondor-huasi. An Inca building 
bearing a thatched luut, zt>g 


Soto, Hernando de. Mentioned. 


Squier, E. G. On the Corican- 
cha, 261 

Stephens, J. L. Legend of the 
dwarf related by, 192-194 ; 
story otthe unknown city, 195 

Stones, worship of, in Peru, 

Suarez. Lorillard City dis- 
covered by, 195 

Sun. Prophecy as to coming of 
white men from, 7 ; symbolised 
as a serpent by Hopi Indians, 
82 ; pictured as abode of 
Quetzalcoatl, 82 ; " father " 
of Totonacs, 82 ; Quaquiutl 
myth respecting, 83-84 ; wor- 
ship of the, in Mexico, 97-102 ; 
the supreme Mexican deity, 
97 ; the heart his special sacri- 
fice, 97 ; blood his especial 
food, 98 ; destruction of succes- 
sive suns, 98 ; human sacrifice 
to, in Mexico, 98-100 ; as god of 
warriors, 99 ; conception of the 
warrior's after-life with, 101 ; 
the feast of Totec, the chief 
Mexican festival of, 101-102 ; 
the supreme Maya deity, 171 ; 
in Inca creation-myth, 258, 
305 ; in the mythology of the 
Chibchas, 276 ; worship of, in 
Peru, 306, 307-313 ; the posses- 
sions of, and service rendered 
to, 308-309 ; and the Rock of 
Titicaca, 309-311 ; especially 
worshipped by the aged, 310 ; 
the Intip-Raymi festival of, 
31 1-3 1 2 ; the Citoc-Raymi 
festival, 312-313 ; human sacri- 
fice to, in Peru, 313 

Sunrise, Land of. In early 
American belief, 6 

" Suns," the Four. In Aztec 
theology, 55 

Susur-pugaio. A fountain ; and 
the vision of Yupanqui, 318 


Tabasco. Same as Tlapaflan, 

which ate 


''Tablet of the Cross," 161, 185- 

Tancah. Maya city, 8 

Tapac-vauri. The royal sceptre 
of the Incas, 321 

Tarahumare. Mexican tribe ; 
and cliff -dwellings, 25 

Tarma. Place in Peru ; Huanca 
defeated at, 285 

Tarpuntaita-cuma. Incas who 
conducted sacrifice, 311 

Tata (Our Father). A name of 
the Mexican fire-god, 95 

Tayasal. Maya city, 196 

Teatlahuiani. A pulque-god, 104 

Tecpanecs. Confederacy of 
Nahua tribes, 26, 50 ; signifi- 
cance of the name, 26, 50 ; 
rivals of the Chichimecs, 27 ; 
of Huexotzinco, defeated by 
Tlascaltecs, 49 ; Aztecs allies 
of, 51 ; growth of their empire, 
51 ; conquer Tezcuco and Chi- 
chimecs, 51 

Tecumbalam. Bird in the Kiche 
story of the creation, 209 

Telpochtli (The Youthful War- 
rior). A name of Tez- 
catlipoca, 66 

Temacpalco. Place mentioned 
in the myth of Quetzalcoatl's 
journey to Tlapallan, 65 

Temalacatl. The Mexican 
gladiatorial stone of combat, 100 

Temple of the Cross No. I, 
The, at Palenque, 185, 186 ; 
No. II, 186 

Temple of Inscriptions, The, 
at Palenque, 185 

Temple of the Sun, The. I. At 
Palenque, 185. II. At Tikal, 

Tknayucan. Chichimec city, 26 

Tenochtitlan. Same as Mexico, 
which see 

Teu-Amuxtli (Divine Book). A 
Nahua native chronicle, 45-46 

Teocalli. The Mexican temple, 

, 30 

Ieocuinani. Mountain; sacred 

to Tlalcc, 77 
Tkohuatzin. High -priest of 

Huitzilopochtli, 75 

Teotihuacan. Sacred city of 
the Toltecs, 18, 47 ; the fiend 
at the convention at, 18 ; the 
Mecca of the Nahua races, 32 ; 
architectural remains at, 32, 33 ; 
rebuilt by Xolotl, Chichimec 
king, 33 ; Charnay's excavations 

at, 33 ' 

Teotleco (Coming of the Gods). 
Mexican festival, 68-69 

Teoyaominqui. Name given to 
the image of Chicomecohuatl 
by early investigators, 88 ; 
Payne on the error, 88-90 

Tepeolotlec. A distortion of 
the name of Tepeyollotl, 102 

Tepeyollotl (Heart of the Moun- 
tain). A god of desert places, 
102-103 ; called Tepeolotlec, 

Tepoxtecatl. The pulque -god 
of Tepoztlan, 105, 117 

Tepoztlan. Mexican city, 105 

Tequechmecauiani. A pulque- 
god, 104 

Tequiua. Disguise of Tezcatli- 
poca, 63 

Ternaux-Compans, H. Cited, 4 

Teteoinnan (Mother of the Gods). 
Mexican maize -goddess, known 
also as Tocitzin, and identical 
with Centeotl the mother, 

Tezcatlipoca (Fiery Mirror). 
Same as Titlacahuan and Tla- 
matzincatl. The Mexican god 
of the air, the Jupiter of the 
Nahua pantheon, 37, 59, 67 ; 
tribal god of the Tezcucans, 
59 ; development ot the concep- 
tion, 59-60 ; in legends of the 
overthrow of Toilan, 60 , adver- 
sary of Quetzaleoatl, 60, 79 ; 
plots against Quetzalcoatl, and 
overcomes him, 60-bi ; as 
Toueyo, and the daughter of 
Uemac, 61-62 ; and the dance 
at the least in Toilan, 03 , as 
Tequiua, and the garden of 
Xmhitla, 63 ; and the legend 
of the amusing infant and the 
pestilence, 03 64. , as Nezahuai* 
pilli, 00 ; as Yaoum, 06 ; as 



Telpochtli, 66 ; as usually 
depicted, 66 ; Aztec conception 
of, as wind-god, 66 ; as Yoalli 
Ehecatl, 66 ; extent and 
development of the cult of, 
67-68 ; as Moneneque, 67 ; and 
the Teotleco festival, 68-69 ; 
the Toxcatl festival of, 69-70, 
74 ; in the character of Tlazol- 
teotl, 107, 108 

Tezcotzinco. The villa of Neza- 
hualcoyotl, 133-136 

Tezcuco. I. Chichimec city, 26, 
47 ; rivalry with Azcapozalco, 
49 ; its hegemony, 49 ; conquered 
by Tecpanecs, 51 ; allied with 
Aztecs, 52 ; Tezcatlipoca the 
tribal god, 59 ; the story 
of Nezahualcoyotl, the prince 
of, 125-128. II. Lake, 26 ; 

in legend of the foundation of 
Mexico, 28 ; the cities upon, 

47. 49-50 
Tezozomoc, F.deA. On Mexican 

mythology, 58 

Theozapotlan. Mexican city, 

Thlingit. Indian tribe, 83 

Thomas, Professor C. Research 
on Maya writing, 162 ; on 
God L, 176 

Thomas, St. The Apostle ; 
Cortes believed to be, 7 ; asso- 
ciated with the Maya cross, 187, 
275 ; and the wooden cross 
found in the valley of the 
Chichas, 274 

Thonapa. Son of the creator in 
Peruvian myth ; in connection 
with stone-worship, 293 -myths 
of, 319-320 

Thunder-god, Peruvian, 299-302 

Tiahuanaco. Prehistoric city 
of the Andeans, 249-250 ; the 
great doorway at, 249 ; in a 
legend of Manco Ccapac, 256 ; 
in Inca creation-myth, 258 ; and 
.legend of Thonapa the Civiliser, 


Ticotzicatzin. In the story of 

Princess Papan, 140 
Tikal. Maya city ; architectural 

remains at, 196 

Titicaca. I. Lake, 249 ; settle- 
ments of the Quichua-Aymara 
on the shores of, 254 ; Manco 
Ccapac and Mama Oullo Huaca 
descend to earth near, 256 ; 
regarded by Peruvians as place 
where men and animals were 
created, 298 ; called Mamacota 
by people of the Collao, 298 ; 
idols connected with, 298-299. 
II. Island on Lake Titicaca ; 
the most sacred of the Peruvian 
shrines, 270 ; ruined palace on, 
270 ; sacred rock on, the pac- 
carisca of the sun, 293, 309 ; 
sun-worship and the Rock of 
Titicaca, 309-311 ; the Inca 
Tupac and the Rock, 309-310 ; 
eff ectonthe i sland of the Inca wor* 
ship of the Rock, 310; pilgrimage 
to, 310-311 ; Thonapa on, 320 

Titlacahu an. Same as Tezcatli • 
poca, which see 

Titlacahuan-Tezcatlipoca, 123 

Tiya-manacu. Town in Peru ; 
Thonapa at, 32c 

Tlacahuepan. Mexican deity ; 
plots against Quetzalcoatl, 60 ; 
and the legend of the amusing 
infant and the pestilence, 63-64 

Tlachtli. National ball-game of 
the Nahua and Maya, 33, 220, 
224, 227 

Tlacopan. Mexican city, 26, 50 ; 
Aztecs allied with, 52 

Tlaelquani (Filth-eater). A 
name of Tlazolteotl, which see 

Tlalhuicole. Tlascalan war- 
rior ; the story of, 136-138 

Tlaloc. The Mexican rain-god, 
or god of waters, 29, 75 ; and the 
foundation of Mexico, 29 ; in 
association withHuitzilopochtli, 

74 ; as usually represented, 75- 

76 ; espoused to Chalchihuit- 
licue, 75 ; Tlalocs his offspring, 

75 ; Kiche god Hurakan his 
prototype, 76 ; manifestations 
of, 76 ; festivals of, 77 ; human 
sacrifice in connection with, 76- 

77 ; and Atamalqualiztli festi- 
val, 77-78 ; similarities to, in 
other mythologies, 78 


Tlalocan (The Country of 

Tlaloc). Abode of Tlaloc, 76 
Tlalocs. Gods of moisture ; 

and Huemac II, 16 ; offspring 

of Tlaloc, 75 
Tlalxicco (Navel of the Earth). 

Name of the abode of Mictlan, 


Tlamatzincatl. Same as Tez- 
catlipoca, which see 

Tlapallan (The Country of 
Bright Colours). Legendary 
region, 11 ; Nahua said to have 
originated at, 11 ; the Toltecs 
and, 11 ; Quetzalcoatl proceeds 
to, from Tollan, 64-65, 79 

Tlapallan, Huehue (Very Old 
Tlapallan). In Toltec creation- 
myth, 119 

Tlapallantzinco. Place in 
Mexico; Toltecs at, 12 

can city, 47, 48 ; and the " blood- 
less battle " with Mexico, 48, 
98,99; decline, 49 

Tlascalans. Mexican race, 

offshoot of the Acolhuans, 26 ; 
helped Cortes against Aztecs, 

Tlauizcalpantecutli (Lord of 
the Dawn). Name of the planet 
Venus ; myth of Quetzalcoatl 
and, 80, 96 ; Quetzalcoatl called, 
84 ; worship of, 96 ; in the 
Mexican calendar, 96 

Tlaxcallan. Same as Tlascala, 
which see 

Tlazolteotl (God of Ordure) (or 
Tlaelquani). Mexican goddess 
of confession, 106-108 

Tlenamacac (Ordinary Priests). 
Lesser order of the Mexican 
priesthood, 116 

Tloque Nahuaque (Lord of All 
Existence). Toltec deity, 119 

Tobacco. Use of, among the 
Nahua, 45 

Tochtepec. Place in Mexico; 
Toltecs at, 12 

Tocitzin (Our Grandmother). See 

Toiiil (The Rumbler). Form of 
Quetzalcoatl, 84 ; guides the 

Kiche-Maya to their first city 
152 ; the god assigned tc 
Balam-Quitze in the Kiche 
myth of the creation, 230 ; 
gives fire to the Kiche, 230-231 ; 
turned into stone, 231 

Tollan. Toltec city, modern 
Tula ; founded, 13, 26 ; its 
magnificence, 14 ; afflicted by 
the gods, 16-17 ; Huehuetzin's 
rebellions, 18, 19 ; overthrown, 
19 ; Charnay's excavations at, 
34 ; Tezcatlipoca and the over- 
throw of, 60 ; Quetzalcoatl 
leaves, 64, 79 

Tollantzinco. City of the 
Acolhuans, 48 ; Toltecs at, 12 

Toltecs. First Nahua immi- 
grants to Mexico, 11 ; whether 
a real or a mythical race, 
II, 20-22 ; at Tlapallan, 11, 
12 ; migration route, 12 ; their 
migration a forced one, 12 ; 
imaginative quality of their 
myths, 13 ; elect a king, 14 ; 
progress in arts and crafts, 14, 
23 ; under plagues, 17 ; their 
empire destroyed, 19, 20 ; and 
the civilisation of Central 
America, 20 ; Dr. Brinton's 
theory, 21 ; Quetzalcoatl king 
of, 21 ; possible influence upon 
Nahua civilisation, 22 ; Acol- 
huans may have been, 26 ; 
Tezcatlipoca opposes, and plots 
against, 60-65 ; and creation- 
myth recounted by Ixtlilxochitl, 
119 ; theory that the Maya 
were, 143 

Tonacaciuatl (Lady of oui 
Flesh). A name of Omeciuatl, 
which see 

Tonacatecutli (Lord of our 
Flesh). A name of Ometecutli, 
which see 

Tonalamatl (Book of the Calen- 
dar), 107 

Torito. A bird-maiden ; in the 
myth of origin of the Canaris, 

Torquemada, Father. His 
work on Mexican lore, 57 ; oe 
Mitla, 199 



Totec (Our Great Chief). A sun- 
god, 101-102 ; his feast, the 
chief solar festival, 101-102 

Totemism. Among the primitive 
Peruvians, 291-292 

Totonacs. Aboriginal Mexican 
race, 23 ; and the sun, 

Toueyo. Tezcatlipoca's disguise, 

Toveyo. Toltec sorcerer ; and 
the magic drum, 16 

Toxcatl. Festival ; of Tez- 

catlipoca, 69-70 ; of Huitzilo- 
pochtli, 74 

Toxilmolpilia. Mexican calendar 
ceremony ; and the native 
dread of the last day, 41 

Troano Codex. Maya manu- 
script, 160 ; Dr. Le Plongeon 
and the reference to Queen Moo 
in, 246 

Tucuman (World's End). Name 
given by the Quichua-Aymara 
to their land of origin, 254 

Tulan (or Tulan-Zuiva). City ; 
the starting-point of the Kiche 
migrations, 157-158, 231 ; the 
Kiche arrive at, and receive 
their gods, 230 ; parallel with 
the Mexican Chicomoztoc, 230 ; 
the Kiche confounded in their 
speech at, 231 

Tumipampa. Sometime centre of 
the northern district of Peru, 
286, 289, 290 

Tupac-atau-huallpa (The Sun 
makes Good Fortune). Son of 
Huaina Ccapac, 289 

Tupac-Yupanqui (Bright). Tenth 
Inca, son of Pachacutic, 252- 
253, 287-288 ; achievements 
as ruler, 287 ; and the Huar- 
cans, 288 ; and the Rock of 
Titicaca, 309-310 

Tutul Xius. Ruling caste 
among the Itzaes ; found Ziyan 
Caan and Chichen-Itza, 153 ; 
expelled from Chichen-Itza by 
Cocomes, 153 ; settle in Poton- 
chan, build Uxmal, and regain 
power, 154 ; again overthrown, 
and found Mani, 155 ; finally 


assist in conquering the Co- 
comes, 156 

Tzitzimimes. Demons attendant 
on Mictlan, 9b 

Tzompantitlan. Place men- 
tioned in the myth of Huitzilo- 
pochtli's origin, 71 

Tzompantli (Pyramid of Skulls). 
Minor temple of Huitzilopochtli, 

Tzununiha (House of the Water). 

One of the first women of the 

Popol Vuh myth, 230 

Tzutuhils. A Maya people of 

Guatemala, 158; 159 


Uayayab. Demon who presided 
over the nemontemi (unlucky 
days), 177 ; God N identified 
with, 177 

Uemac. Tezcatlipoca and the 
daughter of, 61-63 

Uitzlampa. Place in Mexico; 
in myth of Huitzilopochtli's 
origin, 72 

Urco-Inca. Inca superseded by 
Pachacutic, 284 

Uricaechea, M. His collection 
of Chibcha antiquities, 277 

Uxmal. Mexican city, founded 
by Tutul Xius, 154; abandoned, 
155 ; ruins at, 191-194 ; primi- 
tive type of its architecture, 194 

Vatican MSS., 37 ; description of 
the journey of the soul in, 37-38 

Vega, Garcilasso el Inca de la. 
Hist, des Incas, cited, 7 ; on the 
gods of the early Peruvians, 291 

Venus. The planet ; worship of, 
96-97; the only star worshipped 
by Mexicans, 96 ; Camaxtli 
identified with, 11 1 ; temple of, 
at Cuzco, 262 

Vera Cruz. Quetzalcoatl lands 
at, 6 

Verapaz. District in Guatemala, 


Vetancurt, A. db. On Mexican 

mythology, 58 
Villa -coto. Mountain ; in a 

Peruvian flood-myth, 323-324 


Mayor. And the prophecy of 
Chi Ian Balam, 8 

Viollet-le-Duc, E. On the 
ruined palace at Mi tla, 197 

Viracocha. I. Eighth Inca, 284, 
318. II. Peruvian deity ; temple 
of, at Cacha, 270 ; regarded as 
son of the sun, 306 ; worshipped 
by Quichua-Aymara as a culture 
hero, and called Pachayachachic, 
307. III. A higherclassof sacred 
objects of the Peruvians, 294. 
IV. Name given to any more 
than usually sacred being, 301 

Vitzillopochtli. Same as 

Huitzilopochtli ; in an Aztec 
migration-myth, 233 

Voc. A bird, the messenger of 
Hurakan ; in Popol Vuh myth, 

Votan. Maya god, identical 
with Tepeyollotl ; God L prob- 
ably is, 176 

Vukub-Cakix (Seven-times-the- 
colour-of-fire). A sun-and-moon 
god (Dr. Seler); in a Kiche 
myth recounted in the Popol 
Vuh, 210-213 J possibly an 
earth -god, 237 

Vukub-Came. One of the rulers 
of Xibalba, the Kiche Hades, 
220, 221, 224 

Vukub-Hunapu. Son of Xpiya- 
coc and Xmucane ; in the myth 
in the second book of the Popol 
Vuh, 220-221, 224, 225, 227 


f Wallum Olum." Records of 
the Leni-Lenape Indians ; a 
migration-myth in, resembles 
Kiche and Aztec myths, 233- 

Wind-Nine-Cavb. Mixtec deity; 

in creation-myth, 120-121, 122 

Wind-Nine-Snakb. Mixtec deity; 

in creation -myth, 120-121, 122 

Women of the Sun. Women 

dedicated to the service of the 

sun in Peru, 308 
Writing. Of the Nahua, 34-35 ; 

of the Maya, 159-166 ; Dr. 

Le Plongeon and the Maya 

hieroglyphs, 239 

Xalaquia. I. Festival of Chi- 
comecohuatl, 86-87. II. The 
victim sacrificed at the Xala- 
quia festival, 87, 90 

Xalisco. District in Mexico 
Toltecs in, 12 

Xaltocan. Mexican city, 50 

Xan. An animal mentioned in 
Popol Vuh myth, 225 

Xaquixahuana. Place in Peru, 

Xauxa. Place in Peru, 285 

Xbakiyalo. Wife of Hunhun- 
Apu, 220 

Xbalanqub (Little Tiger). A 
hero-god, twin with Hun-Apu ; 
in a Kiche myth. 211 -219; 
in the myth in the second book 
of the Popol Vuh, 220, 223-227 ; 
mentioned, 237 

Xecotcovach. Bird in the 
Kiche story of the creation. 209 

Xibalba. I. A semi -legendary 
empire of the Maya, 144. II. 
The Kiche Hades, " Place of 
Phantoms " ; in the myth in 
the second book of the Popol 
Vuh, 220-222, 225-227 ; pos- 
sible origin of the conception, 
229 ; properly a " place of the 
dead," 229 ; origin ot the name, 

Xibalbans. In the myth in the 
second book of the Popol Vuh, 
221, 225-227 ; the originals of, 
228-229 ; nature of, 229 

Xilonen. Form of Chicomeco- 
huatl, 85 

Ximenes. Francisco. Copied and 
translated the Popol Vuh, 207 

Xipe (The Flayed). Mexican god, 
91-92 ; his dress assumed 
by Aztec mooarchs and 



leaders, 91-92 ; Xolotl has 
affinities with, 95 ; God A 
thought to resemble, 174 
Xiuhtecutli (Lord of the Year). 
A name of the Mexican fire-god, 


Xiumalpilli. In Mexican calen- 
dar, 40 

Xiyan Caan. City in Yucatan, 


Xmucane (Female Vigour). The 

mother-god in the Kiche story 
of the creation in the Popol 
Vuh, 209 ; in the Vukub-Cakix 
myth, 212-213 ; in the myth 
in the second book of the Popol 
Vuh, 220-225 ; equivalent to 
the Mexican Omeciuatl, 236 

Xochicalco (The Hill of Flowers). 
A teocalli near Tezcuco, 33-34 

Xochimilcos. Aztec tribe, 233 

Xochipilli. A name of Macuilxo- 
chitl, which see 

Xochitla. A flower-garden near 
Tollan ; the legend ot Tez- 
catlipoca and, 63 

Xochitonal. Monster in the 
Mexican Other-world, 38 

Xochiyayotl (The War ot 
Flowers). Campaign for the 
capture of victims for sacrifice, 
98-99, 100 

Xolotl. I. King of the Chichi- 
mecs, 20 ; Teotihuacan rebuilt 
by, 33. II. A sun-god, 93~94 ; 
of southern origin and foreign 
to Mexico, 93 ; probably iden- 
tical with Nanahuatl, 93 ; 
representative of human sacri- 
fice, 93 ; has affinities with 
Xip e > 93 ; representations of, 


Xpiyacoc. The father god in 

the Popol Vuh story of the 
creation, 209 ; in the Vukub- 
Cakix myth, 212-213 ; i Q tne 
myth in the second book of the 
Popol Vuh, 220 ; equivalent to 
the Mexican Ometecutli, 236 

Xquiq (Blood). A princess of 
Xibalba, daughter of Cuchu- 
maquiq ; in Popol Vuh myth, 


Xulu. A sorcerer mentioned in 
Popol Vuh myth, 227 

Yacatecutli. Tutelar god of 
travellers of the merchant class 
in Mexico, 114 ; the Maya 
Ekchuah probably parallel with, 

Yahuarhuaccac. Seventh Inca, 

Yahuar-pampa (Plain of Blood). 
Battle of, 285 

Yamquisupa. Village ; Thonapa 
and, 319 

Yanacaca. Rocks ; in a myth 
of Paricaca, 327 

Yaotzin (The Enemy). A mani- 
lestation ot Tezcatlipoca, 66 

Yatiri (The Ruler). Aymara 
name of Pachacamac in his 
form of Pachayachachic ; 
Huaina Ccapac and, 299 

Year. The Mexican. 39, 40 

Yetl. God of natives of British 
Columbia, 12 ; probably cog- 
nate with Quetzalcoatl, 12, 

Yma Sumac (How Beautiful). 

Daughter ot Curi-Coyllur ; in 

the drama Apu-Ollanta, 252- 

Yoalli Ehecatl (The Night 

Wind). A manifestation of 

Tezcatlipoca, 66 
Yohualticitl. A name of 

Metztli, which see 
Yolcuat. Form of Quetzalcoatl, 

Yopi. Indian tribe ; Xipe adopted 

from, 92 
Yucatan. Settlement of the 

Maya in, 1 51-152 ; architec- 
tural remains in, 178 
Yucay. Inca ruins at, 269 
Yum Kaax (Lord of the Harvest 

Fields). Maya deity ; God E 

probably identical with, 174 
Yunca. Name given to the 

tropical and lowland districts 

of Peru, 255 


Yupanqui Pachacutic. Ninth 
Inca, known also as Pacha- 
cutic. See Pachacutic 

Zacatecas. Mexican province, 32 
Zapoteca. Aboriginal Mexican 
race, 23 ; builders of Mitla, 31 ; 
their calendric system, 38 ; and 
Quetzalcoatl, 84-85 ; creation- 
myth of, 121-122 ; Maya in- 
fluences transmitted to the 
Nahua through, 147 ; in effect 
a border people, influenced 
by and influencing Maya and 
Nahua, 147 ; oi Nahua stock, 


Zaque. Aboriginal Mexican race, 

Zipacna (Cockspur or Earth- 

heaper). Son of Vukub-Cakix ; 

in a Kiche myth in the Popol 

Vuh, 211-213, 216 
Zippa. A chieftain of the Chib- 

chas, 276 
Zoque. A chieftain of the Chib- 

chas, 276 
Zotuta. Region in Yucatan 

inhabited by remnant of 

Cocomes, 156 
Zotzilaha Chimalman. The 

Maya bat -god, called also Cama- 

zotz, 171-172 
Zumarraga. Mexican chronicler, 

Zutugil dialect, 145 


4 554 19